The Impact of Social Presence on Feelings of Closeness in Personal Relationships

Gooch, Daniel and Watts, Leon (2015). The Impact of Social Presence on Feelings of Closeness in Personal Relationships. Interacting with Computers, 27(6) pp. 661–674.



Any interactive communication system can support personal relationships by facilitating a welcome and timely presence of an absent person in the mind of the other. This paper presents a consideration of how short term feelings, as experienced during acts of communication, relate to a relationship’s longer term feelings towards one another. Through a 21-day study with 63 participants, we report ratings of Closeness and Social Presence as evidence that links the two concepts as temporally distinct aspects of emotional connectedness. Such a relationship is useful as by relating Social Presence to Closeness we can demonstrate that by creating technologies which help to create emotionally significant experiences during acts of communication we are supporting the relationship in a more meaningful, long-term fashion by supporting feelings of Closeness. This assists the HCI community by clarifying how Social Presence and Closeness can be used as phenomenological concepts to assess communication devices designed to support inter-personal relationships.

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