Affect in computer-mediated and face-to-face work groups: The construction and testing of a general model
The present study examines the role of affect, or emotion, in the performance of computer-mediated and face-to-face work groups. Past research has focussed on the role of affect in either individual information processing or behavior in settings requiring interpersonal interaction. Little research has examined the role of affect in groups, especially those in a work group setting. Even less is known about the role that the communication medium plays in the expression or impact of group members' affect. To integrate these domains, a general model of affect in work group settings is proposed. Predictions are derived from the relevant affect, group interaction, and group performance literatures. In addition, predictions about the moderating role of the communication system are discussed. Results from a path analysis suggest that affect has a substantial impact intragroup on processes as well as on work group performance. In face-to-face groups, the affect experienced by group members had an impact on the group's cohesiveness, the amount members participated in the task, and the degree to which members processed information relevant to the task. These factors, in turn, had implications for the group's performance. In computer-mediated groups, affect had an effect on the group's cohesiveness and the amount of information processing, though these were unrelated to any performance measures for these groups. Similarities and differences between communication media are discussed in terms of their importance for extending our understanding about the role of affect in a group performance context.