Date of Award

May 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Mike Allen

Committee Members

Tae-Seop Lim, Erik Timmerman, Sang-Yeon Kim, Hayeon Song


Behavioral Switching, College Students, Cultural Difference, Media Ecology, Self-Presentation, Social Networking Sites


This dissertation explores cultural and platform differences in self-presentation on social networking sites (SNSs) between Japanese and American college students utilizing Impression Management, Media Ecology, and Uses and Gratifications theories and approaches as theoretical frameworks. While Facebook is popular among American college students, Mixi, a Japanese originated SNS, as well as Facebook are popular among Japanese college students. This dissertation investigates the relationship among social culture, the types of SNSs, and the users' self-presentation on SNSs. Previous studies suggest SNS users employ subtle techniques to improve ones' presentation on SNSs, therefore the present study focused on the number of SNS friends and sensitive picture postings (i.e., partying, drunk, sexy, or illegal picture postings) on SNSs.

Five hundred and eighty-three American and 496 Japanese college students participated in the survey, which provided the basis for analyses. The results of the present study demonstrate cultural and SNS platform differences on self-presentation on SNSs. Reflecting regional culture, Japanese Mixi users included limited types of friends on Mixi compared with American and Japanese Facebook users by not including teachers and parents. However, contradict to previous studies, Japanese Facebook users had the largest number of SNS friends followed by Japanese Mixi and American Facebook users after controlling for preexisting conditions (i.e., gender, perception of extraversion, perception of popularity, and the length of membership with the SNS). The similar pattern surfaced in the frequency of sensitive picture postings on SNSs. When the above controlling variables were included in the analyses, Japanese Facebook users posted sensitive pictures the most frequently followed by Japanese Mixi users and Japanese Facebook users.

Furthermore, the present study found Facebook and Mixi dual users friended significantly more people and posted significantly more partying and drunk pictures on Facebook than on Mixi. However, the same individuals did not change the frequency of posting sensitive pictures between Facebook and Mixi. The results added evidence to media ecology. The mediation analyses helped to understand underlying mechanisms of sensitive picture postings on SNSs. The present study found that the Japanese SNS dual users posted drunk pictures on Facebook significantly more frequently due to the perception of injunctive norms. Likewise, the present study found American Facebook users posted sensitive pictures because of the perception of disinhibition. Theoretical as well as practical implications are discussed and possible future research is presented.

Included in

Communication Commons