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Para-Social Presence and Communication Capabilities of a Web Site: A Theoretical Perspective

Nanda Kumar and Izak Benbasat
e-Service Journal
Vol. 1, No. 3, Special Issue: e-Collaboration (Summer 2002), pp. 5-24
Published by: Indiana University Press
DOI: 10.2979/esj.2002.1.3.5
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/esj.2002.1.3.5
Page Count: 20
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Para-Social Presence and Communication Capabilities of a Web Site: A Theoretical Perspective
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Abstract

ABSTRACT The goal of this paper is to describe the theoretical underpinnings of the construct Para-social Presence and to develop an instrument to measure this construct.1 Para-social presence refers to the extent to which a medium facilitates a sense of understanding, connection, involvement and interaction among participating social entities. We make a case for treating a web site as a valid social actor and argue that the relationship between a web site and her visitors should be characterized in much the same way one would characterize an inter-personal relationship. We also argue that a web site could possess different levels of para-social presence depending on how it is configured and used. We then develop a research framework that illustrates the impact of new technologies (such as personalization systems) and associated web interface design decisions on perceived communication characteristics of a web site, para-social presence, and subsequent user evaluations of the web site.

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