Wednesday, 7 November 2012

From a distance: Impression formation and impression accuracy among geographically distributed coworkers

an article by Aditya Johri (Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, USA) published in Computers in Human Behavior Volume 28 Issue 6 (November 2012)


One critical and to date understudied social psychological construct with significant implications for technology-mediated distributed work is impression formation. Forming useful impressions of each other is crucial for coworkers to avoid mistrust, misattribution, and conflict, and thereby, work effectively and productively.

In this theoretical review paper I systematically outline how elements of distributed and virtual work – geographic dispersion, electronic dependence, heterogeneity, and dynamic structures – shape coworkers’ impression of each other by influencing information and motivation, the main moderators of impression formation.

I develop a model of how the impression formation process acts in technology-mediated distributed work settings, draw propositions, and identify ways to mitigate the breakdown in impression formation among distributed coworkers.

Finally, I conceptualise impression accuracy in terms of descriptive, predictive, and explanatory knowledge about others and discuss how it can be increased with positive outcomes for trust, attribution, knowledge sharing, and conflict resolution.


► Impression formation among geographically distributed coworkers is critical for productive collaboration.
► Impression formation is inhibited by distance, reliance on technology, heterogeneity, and dynamic structures of virtual teams.
► Impressions among distributed coworkers are likely to be less developed and individuated and more categorical.
► Impression formation can be facilitated by travel, shared identity, expectation of future interaction, and sharing of contextual information.
► Accurate impressions of work style, expertise, and context will enable more optimal choices among messages exchanged in an interaction.

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