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This study analyzed rhythm and timing in 18 instant messenger (IM) conversations between one advisor and four graduate students (4 dyads), hypothesizing that individuals would show a consistent style across sessions but would differ from one another across dyads. ANOVA results supported the hypotheses for individual students and dyads; however, the advisor varied the timing of her messages to harmonize with the students' preferred temporal styles. These findings suggest that individuals' temporal consistency with themselves may be disrupted if they accommodate to others; advisors may be especially likely to do this. A correlation was also found between number of characters and seconds per message across sessions, on the basis of which we posit an overall temporal profile for dyadic IM. Implications of the findings are discussed for online advising, instruction, and system design.
Date of Conference: 5-8 Jan. 2009