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Who needs cyberspace? Examining drivers of needs in Second Life

Stuart J. Barnes (Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
Andrew D. Pressey (Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 28 January 2011




Human needs and motivation are a central tenet of marketing discourse. In this exploratory study we attempt to understand the factors that drive individuals' higher‐order human needs in a relatively new electronic marketing context, that of virtual worlds.


The study employs the higher‐order needs from Abraham Maslow's hierarchy (i.e. belonging, esteem and self‐actualization) and a series of drivers related to the characteristics of the virtual world medium, personality characteristics, channel interaction, and demographic criteria. Data is collected via a survey delivered in Second Life (n=404) and analyzed using PLS path modeling.


Arousal, pleasure, and individualism act as particularly potent drivers of higher‐order needs in virtual world channels, while channel intensity, affinity for technology and gender act as lesser drivers.

Practical implications

An understanding of personal motivations affords us an insight into consumers' needs and wants and is a useful precursor to targeting them and in effectively fulfilling these needs. This has implications not only in a single channel but across multiple channels.


This study represents one of the first attempts to better understand consumer behavior in virtual world channels, and, by so doing, better inform our understanding of personal needs in the modern multi‐channel environment.



Barnes, S.J. and Pressey, A.D. (2011), "Who needs cyberspace? Examining drivers of needs in Second Life", Internet Research, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 236-254.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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