Beyond the Individual: The Dynamic Features of Distributed Affect
Association for Computing Machinery
Affect has been identified as an important component of the communication practices of distributed teams. Our emerging theory of distributed affect moves beyond the individual as the primary unit of analysis, focusing instead on affect as a dynamic group process. Drawing upon a data set of over four years of chat logs from a distributed scientific collaboration relying on text-based communication to coordinate their work, we expand upon the framework of distributed affect and characterize the concept through five features: transference, resonance, pervasiveness, persistence, and representation. These features provide a set of descriptive components for interactions between people and their environment, their tools, and their present and historical references as part of a dynamical system of affect. We examine specific events in the group's history which highlight the dynamic way affect is operating in this context, and how it influences factors such as creative problem solving. The framework we describe offers a unique analytic lens for the study of computer-supported group work, and a useful tool for framing questions about the continued study of affect in collaborative teams.