East-West divide in social site use found

Feb. 7, 2013 at 5:23 PM
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EAST LANSING, Mich., Feb. 7 (UPI) -- The contrast between U.S. "me-first" culture and China's "collective-good" mentality shows in differing use of social networking sites, a psychologist says.

Michigan State University psychology Professor Linda Jackson said U.S. citizens spend more time on social networking sites, consider them to be more important and have more "friends" on them, while Chinese citizens tend to be more interested in real-world relationships than online friendships and less inclined toward the self-promotion that's popular on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

"In the United States, it's all about promoting yourself and taking credit for positive outcomes and denying blame for negative outcomes," Jackson said in a university release Thursday. "In China, it's the opposite. If something bad happens, you take the blame and talk about how you can improve. If something good happens, the credit is shared for the good of the group."

Jackson and colleague Jin-Liang Wang of China's Southwest University surveyed more than 400 college-aged residents from each country on their use of social network sites.

They said U.S. study participants spent nearly twice as long on social networking sites, nearly 52 minutes a day, compared with Chinese participants at about 28 minutes daily.

Jackson said she worries about the potential negative effects of spending an increasing amount of time online.

"Because we are essentially social creatures, I cannot see good coming out of social isolation and practices that encourage aloneness and solitary activities," she said. "And a lot of technology does this."

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