Publication Details

Shen, K. & Khalifa, M. 2009, 'System design for identification in virtual communities', International Decision Sciences Institute Conference.


Identification has been demonstrated as an important factor for all kinds of pro-social behavior in a collective in general and virtual communities in particular. However, most prior virtual community research takes identification as given without addressing its formation. This study draws upon social identity theory and self-categorization theory to develop a theory for virtual community identification. More particularly, the conceptualization of virtual community identity is developed and accordingly, community presentation, i.e., system design features for presenting a virtual community identity, is hypothesized to facilitate identification by setting the boundaries for inter-group comparison and highlighting the in-group homogeneity. Furthermore, system design features that prior research identified as determinants for communicating personal identities, i.e., self-presentation, deep profiling, and co-presence, are argued to also have impacts on identification directly by influencing social comparison and indirectly by making the virtual community identity attractive. The implications of these results for both theory and practice are discussed.