Unwrapping presence: Creating social presence and enhancing perceived quality of computer-mediated ad hoc team discussions
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The present study extends social presence research by exploring a practical technique to augment social presence and quality of interaction in computer-mediated ad hoc team communication. Undergraduate participants, n=118, were assigned to one of three experimental conditions designed to manipulate their feeling of “connectedness” with their communication partners. Participants had either face-to-face (FTF) social interaction prior to a computer-mediated communication (CMC)-based consensus-making task, CMC-based social interaction prior to the task, or no social interaction prior to the task. The study found that both FTF and CMC-based social interaction prior to a computer-mediated task significantly increased users’ perceptions of both social presence and quality of interaction relative to having no prior social interaction. The study also found strong correlation between social presence and quality of interaction. Highlighted by these findings is the practical recommendation that managers and educators provide opportunities, however brief and in either FTF or CMC-based settings, for group members to interact socially before engaging in task-oriented computer-mediated exchanges.