Thesis or Dissertation A Socioecological Approach to Behavior and Psychological Tendencies on Social Network Sites : The Role of Relational Mobility

THOMSON, Robert John

In this dissertation, I use a socio-ecological approach to explorecross-societal differences in behavior and psychological tendencies on socialnetwork sites (SNS). Specifically, I propose that a number of behaviors andpsychological tendencies associated with SNS use can be explained byrelational mobility: a socioecological factor that pertains to the degree offreedom and opportunity people have in a society or social context to form andsever interpersonal relationships according to personal preference. First, inChapter 1, I outline the rationale for incorporating offline levels of relationalmobility in the explanation of online phenomenon. Next, in Chapter 2, Iintroduce in more detail the socioecological framework within which Iapproach societal differences in SNS use.Following this, in Chapters 3 to 5 I explore empirically the role of offlinerelational mobility in various SNS behaviors and psychology. In Chapter 3 Iexplain societal differences in Internet privacy concern by way of relationalmobility and Yamagishi’s concept of general trust. That is, I show in a sampleof US and Japanese SNS users that Japanese are more concerned aboutprivacy on SNS than US users, and this difference is mediated by relationalmobility and general trust, in serial. In Chapter 4 I use a sample of US andJapanese Facebook users to explore societal differences in self-promotingbehavior and associated outcomes on Facebook. I show that US usersself-promote more than Japanese users, and report more positive outcomes ofself-promotion, and that these differences are mediated by relational mobility.Finally, in Chapter 5, explore the concept of context collapse andassociated interpersonal conflict on Facebook in the US and Japan, from theperspective of relational mobility. I demonstrate that compared with USFacebook users, Japanese users avoid conflict more than US users, and thisdifference in behavior explains a US-Japan difference in the strength ofassociation between audience diversity and conflict on Facebook. Thesignificance of this work is 2-fold: First, it demonstrates the different ways inwhich Internet users in different societies shape interaction on SNS in emicways (rather than technology purely determining behavior) and second, theyfurther our understanding of how the structure of objective socialenvironments impact human behavior.
Hokkaido University(北海道大学). 博士(文学)

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