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«Heeman Kim and Zizi Papacharissi Heeman Kim Zizi Papacharissi Cross-cultural Differences in Online Self-Presentation: A Content Analysis of Personal ...»

Heeman Kim and Zizi Papacharissi

Heeman Kim

Zizi Papacharissi

Cross-cultural Differences in

Online Self-Presentation:

A Content Analysis of Personal

Korean and US Home pages

The purpose of this study was to explore the cross-cultural differences in

online presentation, by applying the concept of the independent and

interdependent self-construal to the online context. Therefore, this study

analyzed 98 Korean and US individual home pages to examine how

cultural differences are displayed online, especially as they relate to manifestations of collectivism and individualism. The results of the study indicated that personal homepages can serve as a forum for the expression of cultural identity. Most notably, while the US virtual actors presented themselves in a direct and personal manner, the Korean virtual actors structured the online self by providing interlinks to special interests.

Virtual actors in the US were more likely to present themselves with still pictures, while those in Korea were more likely to use manipulated graphics.

These differences in online presentation were consistent with the individualistic and collectivistic orientations of these cultures.

P ersonal home pages have emerged in the past few years to offer yet another possibility for online self presentation. Web authoring is now a standard feature offered and supported by most Internet service providers and web portal sites. Many such providers, like AOL, Yahoo!, or MSN, create communities of web authors to attract additional subscribers and advertisers (Papacharissi, 2002). Yahoo!! Geocities provides web publishing services to five and a half million subscribers, or homesteaders (Wired, 2000). Fascination with online publishing as an avenue for self presentation is not contained solely within the US, much like other types of Internet uses. In Korea, the number of Internet users exceeds 21 millions and 06 Heeman Kim By: ROS 117 Size: 6" x 8.7" J/No: 03-13655 6/12/03, 1:32 PM Fonts: GarthGraphic, Optima Asian Journal of Communication, Volume Thirteen Number One 2003

10.7 per cent of them have their own homepages (Lee & Kim, 2001).

The number has accelerated because major domestic portal sites, such as Netian Homebuilder, Lycos Korea

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self construals were negatively linked to use of indirect messages and positively linked to preciseness, openness and expression of feelings to define and structure the self. In contrast, the interdependent selfconstrual was positively linked to greater sensitivity toward others’ feelings, and negatively linked to positive attitudes toward silence.

The authors confirmed that independent self-construals are related to low-context communication and interdependent self-construals are related to high-context communication across cultures.

This overview of relevant research reveals numerous ways in which intercultural theory can be applied to understand cross-cultural differences of personal home pages. The differences noted between individualist and collectivist cultures and corresponding self-construals suggest ways in which self-presentation differs across cultures. Based on cultural orientation, individuals show varying preference for direct/ indirect communication, display certain communicative traits like apprehension and argumentativeness, engage in expression of personal information and feelings, and refer to themselves as independent entities or parts of a social group. The following section then, focuses on how these results can be applied to the study of personal home pages as medium for self presentation.

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s 1. http://dir.yahoo.com/Society_and _Culture/People/Personal_Home_Pages/ s 2. http://kr.dir.yahoo.com/Society_and_Culture/ People/ Personal_Home_Pages/





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