Experienced presence within computer-mediated communications: Initial explorations on the effects of gender with respect to empathy and immersion


The concept of presence has generated much discussion over the past few years. There is a consensus that presence exists and that it can be experienced as a reaction to environmental stimuli. However, less has been written on the psychological mechanisms of engaging in presence. We argue that presence is closely linked to empathy and that strong empathic tendencies will lead to high levels of experienced presence. In this study we investigate the relationship between presence, empathy, and gender. A 2×2 experimental design was administered to participants who interacted with a flight simulator. Our results indicate that men and women engage in presence in different ways. Men appear to engage in presence via the interaction afforded by the virtual environment, whereas women appear to engage in presence via watching the environment. Both men and women appear to use empathic ability as a means of engaging in presence. Implications and directions for future research are discussed. © 2005 Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

Publication Title

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication