Virtual Reality

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 183–194 | Cite as

Presence in the age of social networks: augmenting mediated environments with feedback on group activity

  • Francesco Martino
  • Roberto Baù
  • Anna Spagnolli
  • Luciano Gamberini
Original Article


The present study aimed at increasing behavioral engagement in groups of networked people by providing feedback on the group activity. Each participant logged into an on-line virtual environment for four subsequent treasure-hunting sessions along with other nine players. During the game, all players communicated dyadically through textual chats, and searched for the treasures in the virtual environment. In two conditions, the participants received a visual feedback depicting the communication activity with the group based on social network analysis indices (i.e. ‘centrality’ or ‘reciprocity’). Feedback was not provided in the third condition. The underlying assumption was that if the group activity becomes more visible to the individual user through the feedback, then the behavioral engagement with the group increases. The resulting behavioral engagement was measured with two techniques, one based on the amount of messages exchanged and one based on self-reported measures. The results show that feedback improved the exchange of messages with respect to the control condition and that this effect was only partially captured by self-reported measures.


Social network analysis Feedback Social presence Behavioral engagement Multiplayer game Augmented communication 



The study reported here is partially funded by the PASION project (Psychologically Augmented Social Interaction over Networks, reference number 27654 PASION, EU IST program).


  1. Adamic L, Adar E (2005) How to search a social network. Soc Netw 27:187–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arminen I (2008) Configuring presence in simulated and mobile contexts. In: Proceedings of the 11th annual inter workshop on presence. Available at: Accessed 01 May 2009
  3. Bandura A (1978) Social learning theory of aggression. J Comun 28:12–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bender-deMoll S, McFarland DA (2006) The art and science of dynamic network visualization. J Soc Struct 7. Available at: Accessed 01 May 2009
  5. Biocca F, Harms C, Gregg J (2001) The networked minds measure of social presence: pilot test of the factor structure and concurrent validity. In: Proceedings of 4th annual workshop on presenceGoogle Scholar
  6. Biocca F, Harms C, Burgoon JK (2003) Towards a more robust theory and measure of social presence: review and suggested criteria. Presence 12:456–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Borgatti SP, Everett MG, Freeman LC (2001) Ucinet for Windows: software for social network analysis. Analytic Technologies, Harvard, MAGoogle Scholar
  8. Brahnam S (2009). Building character for artificial conversational agents: ethos, ethics, believability, and credibility. Psychnol J 7(1):9–47. Available at: Accessed 01 May 2009Google Scholar
  9. Brugnoli MC, Morabito F, Walker R, Davide F (2007) The PASION project: psychologically augmented social interaction over networks. Psychnol J 4:103–116Google Scholar
  10. Carley KM (2003) Dynamic network analysis. In: Breiger R, Carley K, Pattison P (eds) Dynamic social network modeling and analysis: workshop summary and papers. National Research Council, Washington, DC, pp 133–145Google Scholar
  11. Carver CS, Scheier MF (1981) Attention and self-regulation: a control theory to human behavior. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Castro LA, Gonzalez VM (2008) Being part of the life of one’s hometown: strategies to support community connectedness. Psychnol J 6(1):61–82. Available via Accessed 01 May 2009Google Scholar
  13. Cross R, Parker A, Borgatti SP (2002) Making invisible work visible: using social network analysis to support strategic collaboration. Calif Manage Rev 44:25–46Google Scholar
  14. De Angeli A (2009) Ethical implications of verbal disinhibition with conversational agents. Psychnol J 7(1):49–57. Available at: Accessed 01 May 2009Google Scholar
  15. DiMicco JM, Bender W et al (2007) Reactions to visual feedback tools. In: Proceedings of 2nd international conference on persuas technologyGoogle Scholar
  16. DiMicco JM, Pandolfo A, Bender W (2004) Influencing group participation with a shared display. In: Proceedings of ACM conference on computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW 2004)Google Scholar
  17. Freeman LC (1979) Centrality in social network: conceptual clarification. Soc Netw 1:215–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Freeman LC (2000) Visualizing social structure. J Soc Struct 1. Available at: Accessed 01 May 2009
  19. Gamberini L, Martino F, Scarpetta F, Spoto A, Spagnolli A (2007) Unveiling the structure: effects of social feedback on communication activity in online multiplayer videogames. In: Schuler D (ed) Online communities and social computing, Springer, Heidelberg, pp 334–341Google Scholar
  20. Hayes A (2006) A primer on multilevel modelling. Hum Comun Res 32:385–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Heer J, Boyd D (2005) Vizster: visualizing online social networks. In: IEEE symposium on information visualization. Available at: Accessed 01 May 2009
  22. Herring SC, Kouper I, Paolillo JC et al (2005) Conversations in the blogosphere: an analysis from the bottom up. In: Proceedings of 38th Hawaii international conference on system scienceGoogle Scholar
  23. Holmes J, Meyerhoff M (1999) The community of practice: theories and methodologies in language and gender research. Lang Soc 28:173–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ilgen DR, Fisher C, Taylor MS (1979) Consequences of individual feedback on behavior in organizations. J Appl Psychol 64:349–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Katz L, Powell JH (1955) Measurement of the tendency toward reciprocation of choice. Sociometry 19:403–409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kenny DA, Mannetti L, Pierro A et al (2002) The statistical analysis of data from small groups. J Pers Soc Psychol 83:126–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kerr NL, Messe LA, Park ES, Sambolec EJ (2005) Identifiability, performance feedback and the kohler effect. Group Process Intergroup Rel 8:375–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kluger AN, DeNisi A (1996) The effects of feedback interventions on performance: a historical review, a meta-analysis, and a preliminary feedback intervention theory. Psychol Bull 119:254–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kossinets G, Watts DJ (2006) Empirical analysis of evolving social networks. Science 311:88–90CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  30. Licoppe C, Smoreda Z (2006) Rhythms and ties: towards a pragmatics of technologically-mediated sociability. In: Brynin KrautR, Kiesler S (eds) Domesticating information technologies. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 296–313Google Scholar
  31. Locke EA, Latham GP (1990) A theory of goal setting and task performance. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJGoogle Scholar
  32. Martino F, Spoto A (2006) Social network analysis: a brief theoretical review and further perspective in the study of information technology. Psychnol J 4:53–86. Available at Accessed 01 May 2009Google Scholar
  33. Morris ME (2005) Social networks as health feedback displays. IEEE Internet Comp 9(5):29–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mui L, Mohtashemi M, Halberstadt A (2002) A computational model of trust and reputation. In: Proceedings of 35th Hawaii international conference on system scienceGoogle Scholar
  35. Murrel S (1983) Computer communication system design affects group decision making. In: Proceedings of the ACM SIGCHI conference on human factors in computer systemsGoogle Scholar
  36. Paolillo JC (2001) Language variation on internet relay chat: a social network approach. J Socioling 5:180–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Peugh JL, Enders CK (2005) Using the SPSS mixed procedure to fit cross-sectional and longitudinal multilevel models. Educ Psychol Meas 65:717–741CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  38. Quenè H, van der Bergh H (2004) On multi-level modelling of data from repeated measures design: a tutorial. Speech Commun 43:103–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Reeves B, Nass C (1996) The media equation: how people treat computers, television, and new media like real people and places. CSLI Publications, Stanford, CAGoogle Scholar
  40. Schroeder R (2006) Being together and the future of connected presence. Presence 14:438–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schroeder R, Steed A, Axelsson A-S et al (2001) Collaborating in networked immersive spaces: as good as being there together? Comp Graph 25:781–788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Short J, Williams E, Christie B (1976) The social psychology of telecommunications. Wiley, LondonGoogle Scholar
  43. Snijder T, Bosker R (1999) Multilevel analysis. Sage Publications, LondonGoogle Scholar
  44. Southwell B, Doyle K (2004) The good, the bad, or the ugly? A multilevel perspective on electronic game effects. Am Behav Sci 48:391–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Spagnolli A, Gamberini L (2005) A place for presence. Understanding the human involvement in mediated interactive environments. Psychnol J 3:6–15. Available at: Accessed 01 May 2009Google Scholar
  46. Spagnolli A, Gamberini L (2007) Interacting via SMS: practices of social closeness and reciprocation. Br J Soc Psychol 46(2):343–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Spagnolli A, Scarpetta F, Tona T, Bortolatto T (2008) Conversational practices and presence: how the communication structure exploits the affordances of the medium. Proc Presence 2008:107–116Google Scholar
  48. Ware C, Purchase H, Colpoys L, McGill M (2002) Cognitive measurements of graph aesthetics. Inf Vis 1(2):103–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wasserman S, Faust K (1994) Social network analysis. Methods and applications. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  50. Wellman B (2001) Computer networks as social networks. Science 293:2031–2034CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Yates J, Orlinowski WJ, Wörner SL (2002) Virtual organizing: using threads to coordinate distributed work. In: Proc of the 36th Hawaii international conference on system science. Available at: Accessed 01 May 2009
  52. Zahoric P, Jenison RL (1998) Presence and being in the world. Presence 7:78–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zumbach J, Schönemann J, Reimann P (2005) Analyzing and supporting collaboration in cooperative computer-mediated communication. In: Proceedings of the 2005 conference on computer supported for collaboration, pp 758–76Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco Martino
    • 1
  • Roberto Baù
    • 1
  • Anna Spagnolli
    • 1
  • Luciano Gamberini
    • 1
  1. 1.Human Technology Lab, Department of General PsychologyUniversity of PadovaPadovaItaly

Personalised recommendations