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 explore cross-societal differences in behavior and psychological tendencies on social network sites (SNS). Specifically, I propose that a number of behaviors and psychological tendencies associated with SNS use can be explained by relational mobility: a socioecological factor that pertains to the degree of freedom and opportunity people have in a society or social context to form and sever interpersonal relationships according to personal preference. First, in Chapter 1, I outline the rationale for incorporating offline levels of relational mobility in the explanation of online phenomenon. Next, in Chapter 2, I introduce in more detail the socioecological framework within which I approach societal differences in SNS use. Following this, in Chapters 3 to 5 I explore empirically the role of offline relational mobility in various SNS behaviors and psychology. In Chapter 3 I explain societal differences in Internet privacy concern by way of relational mobility and Yamagishi’s concept of general trust. That is, I show in a sample of US and Japanese SNS users that Japanese are more concerned about privacy on SNS than US users, and this difference is mediated by relational mobility and general trust, in serial. In Chapter 4 I use a sample of US and Japanese Facebook users to explore societal differences in self-promoting behavior and associated outcomes on Facebook. I show that US users self-promote more than Japanese users, and report more positive outcomes of self-promotion, and that these differences are mediated by relational mobility. Finally, in Chapter 5, explore the concept of context collapse and associated interpersonal conflict on Facebook in the US and Japan, from the perspective of relational mobility. I demonstrate that compared with US Facebook users, Japanese users avoid conflict more than US users, and this difference in behavior explains a US-Japan difference in the strength of association between audience diversity and conflict on Facebook. The significance of this work is 2-fold: First, it demonstrates the different ways in which Internet users in different societies shape interaction on SNS in emic ways (rather than technology purely determining behavior) and second, they further our understanding of how the structure of objective social environments impact human behavior.
Hokkaido University(北海道大学). 博士(文学)

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