Social Presence: Conceptualization and Measurement

C. Kreijns, M. Xu, Joshua Weidlich

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Web of Science)


Social presence is an important construct in online group learning. It influences the way how social interaction unfolds online and affects learning and social outcomes. However, what precisely social presence is has been under debate, as presently a plethora of different definitions and measures exist preventing the development of a coherent research field regarding social presence and its defining role in online group learning. To solve the issue, we went back to the original social presence theory as devised by the communication researchers Short et al. (1976) to show that although they had a clear idea of social presence—namely “realness” of other persons in the interaction—their definition is ambiguous, not operationalizable, and the measurement of it questionable. We, therefore, disentangled their social presence theory and (1) reformulated the social presence definition to enable an operationalization in line with the previous conceptualization of social presence; (2) departed from the technological determinism of social presence; and (3) identified two other constructs closely linked to social presence, namely, sociability (as a medium attribute) and social space (as a group attribute). By reformulating the definition of social presence and by linking it to social space and sociability, we hope to contribute to a more coherent line of social presence research and to better understand interpersonal communication, group learning, and group dynamics when learning and working together in an online setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139–170
Number of pages32
JournalEducational Psychology Review
Issue number1
Early online date22 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Sociability
  • Social presence definition
  • Social presence measurement
  • Social space


Dive into the research topics of 'Social Presence: Conceptualization and Measurement'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this