Due to the prevalence of digital communication, the importance of digital communication for romantic relationship formation and maintenance, and the associations between online behavior and romantic conflict, it is important to investigate conflict enabled by and conducted through digital communication platforms. Additionally, because of the overrepresentation of self-report measures in studying online relational behavior, it is not known whether current methods of studying in-person conflict apply to digital conflict. The present study thus aimed to examine 1) the efficacy of participant-uploaded screenshots for observing online relationship experiences, and 2) the applicability of the adapted SPAFF coding system (D-SPAFF) to romantic dyadic digital communication. We found acceptable participant compliance and rich data was acquired using this method. We also found affective behavior in screenshots was related to similar concurrent and prospective relationship outcomes as found in the literature. Finally, there were a few unexpected affective behaviors related to relationship outcomes. Our study supports a nuanced theoretical framework for the investigation of online relationship interactions. Future research should continue to validate this method and investigate the unique affordances and mechanisms of digital interactions.
- A Screenshot Is Worth a Thousand Words: Capturing Affective Behavior in Romantic Dyadic Digital Communication.