In small (4–6 member), online task groups two factors were varied: (a) group composition, in terms of the gender of the group members, and (b) assigned tasks, in terms of the content and amount of cooperation required. Gender group composition included female only (FO), male only (MO), and evenly mixed male and female (MIX) groups. The two task conditions included a ‘feminine’-content, decision-making or a ‘masculine’-content, intellective task. Groups came to consensus on the task answer using only asynchronous computer-mediated communication (CMC). It was predicted that FO and MO groups would demonstrate communication and satisfaction differences as a function of task assigned as well as group composition. Group composition was related to many group process variables in significant ways; however, in general, task differences were less strong. FO groups, regardless of task, sent more words per message, were more satisfied with the group process, and reported higher levels of group development than either MIX or MO groups. However, both task and gender composition variables were related to various measures of choice of language. Mixed results with regard to gender composition and choice of language require a further examination of gender effects on CMC as occurring in small task groups. Choice of language relation to task type were generally opposite of predictions and require clarification of task distinctions and methodologies used. The significance of the results lies in defining the styles of communicating in the CMC context that will enhance group development.
Computers in Human Behavior – Elsevier
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