The influence of cultural differences on the use of social network services and the formation of social capital

Yong Gu Ji, Hwan Hwangbo, Ji Soo Yi, P. L.Patrick Rau, Xiaowen Fang, Chen Ling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Citations (Scopus)


With the advent of Web 2.0, social network services (SNSs), such as Facebook and MySpace, have grown explosively and globally as one of core Web 2.0 applications. However, as revealed in other cultural comparison studies in the field of human-computer interaction, it is believed that cultural differences profoundly impact on how people use SNSs. Unfortunately, the differences in using SNSs have not been systematically investigated, so this study presents a web-based survey study among three nations: Republic of Korea, People's Republic of China, and the United States of America. It was assumed that SNS users form bridging and bonding social capital (borrowed from social capital theory) through the five functions of SNS that were categorized: Identity, Expert Search, Connection, Communication, and Contents Sharing. A correlation between social capital-related activities and usage patterns of SNS was expected. A total of 489 responded to the web-based survey through the three counties. Although the theory of cultural differences turned out to be insufficient to explain diverse usage patterns of SNSs, the results showed that Korean and Chinese users form bridging and bonding social capital mainly through Expert Search and Connection functions, but American users mainly use the Communication function to form bonding Social Capital. Various implications of these results for researchers and practitioners who work on and for SNSs are described as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1100-1121
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Nov

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (2009– 0075640).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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