Manipulating Social Presence Through the Web Interface and Its Impact on Consumer Attitude Towards Online Shopping

Working Paper Authors Publish Date
10 Khaled Hassanein
Milena M. Head
Jul. 2004

The online shopping experience is primarily geared towards reducing the user’s cognitive burden through functional and performance based Website design heuristics. As such, e-Commerce typically lacks human warmth and sociability, since it is more impersonal, anonymous and automated than traditional person-to-person commerce. Prior research has shown that the perception of social presence can affect online consumers’ trust and their subsequent intention to purchase from a commercial Website. This paper reports the results of an empirical study undertaken to investigate the impact of various levels of socially-rich text and picture design elements on the perception of online social presence and its subsequent effect on antecedents of Website attitude. Higher levels of social presence are shown to positively impact the perceived usefulness, trust and enjoyment of shopping Websites, which can result in more favourable consumer attitudes. Implications of these finding for practitioners and future research are outlined.

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