Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Hotel Administration

First Committee Member

Choongbeom Choi

Second Committee Member

James Busser

Third Committee Member

Sarah Tanford

Fourth Committee Member

Billy Bai

Fifth Committee Member

Bradley Wimmer

Number of Pages



Social influence is not limited only to interactive situations but also includes those that occur without a direct interaction such as the mere presence of others (Argo, Dahl, & Manchanda, 2005). Although there is wide agreement that the mere presence of others influences one’s decision-making process, little research is conducted to understand whether the effect of the presence of others influences consumer behaviors in an online context (Naylor, Lamberton, & West, 2012). To address this gap, this study suggests that mere virtual presence (MVP) provides social cues to the customer and influences the customer’s willingness to book (WTB). Specifically, the first study examines whether the effect of a pictorial MVP on WTB is moderated by self-construal. The second study examines whether the effect of verbal MVP on WTB is moderated by gender. In addition, Study 2 examines if the underlying mechanism of such a proposed interaction on WTB is due to a tendency to correspond with others who share similar characteristics. To achieve the purpose of the dissertation, Study 1 utilized a 2 (MVP) x 2 (self-construal) experimental design by operationalizing the presence of other customers in a hotel booking image. Study 2 utilized a 3 (MVP) x 2 (gender) quasi experimental design by manipulating the gender composition of other customers. The results of Study 1 demonstrate that interdependent individuals’ WTB were significantly higher when other customers were depicted in the hotel booking image. In contrast, regardless of the presence/absence of other customers in the hotel booking image, no differences in WTB were found among independent individuals. The results of Study 2 demonstrate that female customers’ booking intentions were significantly higher when a majority of other customers were females versus males. Conversely, no difference in WTB was found among male customers regardless of different gender compositions of other customers. The current study extends the social impact theory (Latané, 1981) by investigating the effect of the mere presence of others in an online context. In addition, the study contributes to the literature in applying the agency-communion theory (Bakan, 1966) in the context of online booking. Practically, findings of the current research can be brought to the attention of hotels and online travel agencies (OTAs) and make them aware of the importance of the virtual presence of other customers to achieve their strategic goals. Specifically, the findings of the current dissertation provide a roadmap to enhance the booking intention of interdependent and female customers to book a hotel online.


Gender; Other customers; Self-construal; Virtual presence; Willingness to book



File Format


File Size

6.6 MB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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