social presence

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A subjective or phenomenal quality attributed to a medium related to the sensory channels which it supports. Media differ in their degree of social presence and this is argued to be a factor in determining the ways in which individuals use them in interaction since the choice of medium affects the nature of the interaction. In 1976, the British psychologists John Short, Ederyn Williams, and Bruce Christie ranked face-to-face communication as having the most social presence, followed by CCTV, the telephone (including speaker-phones and audio conferencing systems), and finally business letters. Media with high social presence are able to communicate facial expression, direction of gaze, posture, dress, and nonverbal vocal cues, which represent the presence of another person (see also psychological distance). However, it is not true that media with high social presence are simply better, for those with low social presence are better suited to task-oriented purposes where the sense of presence is not an issue. See also cuelessness; compare media richness.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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