Supporting Social Interaction in Virtual Communities: Role of Social Presence

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Kathy Ning Shen, City University of Hong Kong, Mohamed Khalifa, City University of Hong Kong


To support social interactions characterizing most activities in virtual communities, system design needs to go beyond functional and user-friendliness requirements to incorporate the demands for supporting social environments and activities. Social presence, as a subjective nature of communication media, reflects the perception of social actors as well as social settings and has been regarded as one of the major design principles for virtual communities. Our study explores its potential in facilitating the social identification process and promoting community participation. Drawing upon the social identity theory, we develop a model explaining the effects of social presence on social identification and community participation. An empirical study involving 430 members from four different virtual communities of interest provide strong support for our model. The theoretical and practical implications of these results are discussed.


Social presence; Social identity; Virtual communities; Participation



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