Language, psychology, and new new media: the hyperpersonal model of mediated communication at twenty-five years

Joseph B. Walther, Monica T. Whitty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Research on the hyperpersonal model originally described how the substitution of language for nonverbal cues, necessitated by text-based computer-mediated communication systems, transforms users’ reception, self-presentation, composition, and reciprocal reinforcement of messages in ways that create socially desirable relationships online. This article reviews the model after 25 years. It explicates the original model and mentions a sample of illustrative findings. It reflects on the state of internet diffusion and research traditions in the 1990s that affected the model’s original focus, and how these conditions have changed. It enumerates contexts that continue to meet the model’s original boundary assumptions, and some boundary expansions. It explores ways in which the model’s principles extend into contemporary multi-modal social media. It illustrates the evolutionary applicability of the model through cases of deceptive online romances, including contemporary online romance scams. It concludes by suggesting future research examining how many contemporary social media performances and responses comport with and illustrate the model’s tenets, at scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-135
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • computer-mediated communication
  • hyperpersonal model
  • online romance scam
  • social media

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