PsychNology Journal, Volume 13, Number 2-3, 235 - 258

When technological affordances meet interactional norms: the value of pre-screening in online chat counseling

Wyke Stommel
Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Hedwig te Molder
Wageningen University and Twente University, The Netherlands


We present a conversation analysis of openings sequences of online text-based chat counseling. Particular about this chat counseling is that the clients made available their help question through pre-screening. The data consisted of 40 chat sessions with pre-screening and 34 sessions without pre-screening from the Dutch alcohol and drugs chat service. In the chat sessions with pre-screening, the participants displayed accountability with regard to the norms relevant to pre-given information, which took up space and time and frequently involved interactional misalignment. In chat sessions without pre-screening of the question, the openings followed a more fluent interactional course. We discuss how affordances of digital communication media may work as constraints when the participants orient to interactional norms known from other, offline environments.

KEYWORDS: conversation analysis, online counseling, chat, openings, pre-screening, conversational norms, technological affordances.

Stommel, W., te Molder, H. (2015). When technological affordances meet interactional norms: The value of pre-screening in online chat counseling. PsychNology Journal,13(2-3), 235 - 258. Retrieved [month] [day], [year], from

Download Full Text (.pdf)
Return to
PsychNology Journal Volume 13, Number 2-3