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Running Head: Group-based Mobile Messaging - page 11 / 23





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3.1  Method

3.1.1  Participants

Participants were four groups of 6 - 8 friends, with some groups including siblings and co-workers. A total of 29 people participated, with group sizes of 8, 8, 7, and 6 people, respectively. Participants were given software gratuities in exchange for participation. Study groups were required to be existing social groups whose members communicate at least once per week and have a demonstrated desire to communicate with one another. All participants were required to have mobile phones with SIM cards. Participant ages ranged from 19 to 28, with a mean age of 24. Gender broke down to 9 females and 20 males, which was more skewed toward males than desired, but simply the result of the friends groups that were available and met the recruiting criteria. 17 participants were white, 9 Asian-American, and 3 Hispanic.

The groups were quite different in their social makeup. The first group consisted of highly social urbanites, who see one another “every day” and tend to go out on the town nearly every night of the week. They were also extremely savvy of social and mobile device technologies. The second group was also quite technologically savvy, but knew one another through church and were considerably less inclined to go out to bars and dance clubs. Members of this group reported being close, but not as close to one another as the first group. The third group differed in that they were slightly older, more professional, and less familiar with mobile and social technologies. Although they tended to own the latest “cool” mobile phone, it was used more for business and less for social messaging. Four members of this group worked in the same office, so they spent long blocks of time co-located during the work week. The fourth group was distinct in that they were geographically separated, with members living in three different cities, each several hours drive away from one another.

All participants were provided iMate Sp3 Smartphones with Slam installed. Participants used the SIM card from their personal mobile phones in order to maintain their phone number and contact list throughout the study. All participants signed up for unlimited data access for their mobile accounts, which was reimbursed by the experimenters.

3.1.2  Procedure

Participants met with the experimenter twice, once at the start and once at the conclusion of the study. During the first meeting, participants were introduced to the Slam software and given a hardware overview to ensure all participants had working internet and phone connections on the devices given to them for the duration of the study. During the wrap-up session, participants shared their experiences with the experimenter through a set of targeted round-table discussion questions.

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