Many thanks to Richard Baer at Camosun College for pointing this article out to us!
Formality in Chat Reference: Perceptions of 17- to 25-Year-Old University Students
This brand new, pertinent, Canadian article looks at how chat reference service providers' formal and informal language impacts students' perceptions of their chat session in a number of ways. It includes students' perceptions of interpersonal connection with the service provider, competency of the service provider, credibility of the answers they received during the session, and overall satisfaction with the session as the major areas for examination. The article focuses on chat reference with 17-25 year old patrons - the age range of most AskAway patrons.
The findings of this study suggest that formality plays a key role in altering the perceptions of 17- to 25-year-olds in relation to virtual reference interactions. Both communication styles appeared to have benefits and drawbacks. Whereas participants often perceived formal language as suggesting competency and trustworthiness, it also was interpreted as robotic, impersonal, and at times condescending. Conversely, informal language suggested approachability, enthusiasm, and interpersonal connection, but also youth and inexperience.