Use of Linguistic Qualifiers and Intensifiers in a Computer Conference
Previous research in text-based computer conferencing has reported that analysis of transcripts of online discussions can reveal how participants network socially, exchange information, and attempt to construct knowledge. Some have detected gender differences in online discussions, which may affect the interpersonal dynamics within the group. This study investigated a possible gender-related communications difference (the use of linguistic qualifiers and intensifiers) in a computer conference transcript. The study differed from some previous work in using the sentence as the unit of analysis and in employing a newly developed tool for coding, the Transcript Analysis Tool. Results suggested a tendency for women to use more of the forms thought likely to sustain dialogue (qualifiers, conditional and parenthetic statements, and personal pronouns), whereas men’s postings generally contained fewer qualifiers and more intensifiers. The differences were seen as generally supporting previous findings and also as demonstrating that in a moderated conference the range of interactive behavior is less extreme than in “open” or unstructured environments.