Professor, alumna publish article analyzing online profiles in U.S. and China

Yidi Li presents a poster at APA on research with Elizabeth Mazur

Yidi Li at the American Psychological Association meeting in 2011 presenting the research done with Elizabeth Mazur.

Credit: Penn State

MCKEESPORT, Pa. — Elizabeth Mazur, psychology professor at Penn State Greater Allegheny, and Yidi Li, former Penn State undergraduate, published the results of their research in the April 2016 issue of Psychology of Popular Media Culture, a journal of the American Psychological Association that is dedicated to publishing empirical research on how popular culture and media influence behavior.

The article, “Identity and self-presentation on social networking web sites: A comparison of online profiles of Chinese and American emerging adults,” reports the analysis of 100 Internet profiles of men and women ages 18 to 25 years in China and the United States. Mazur and Li’s goal was to explore the public presentation of self and identity on popular social networking websites.

Although there were some similarities between the profiles from the two countries, U.S. profile users were more likely than those from China to publish optimistic blog entries and less likely to discuss identity exploration and mood disruptions. In addition, U.S. users were more likely to positively rate their personality, appearance and mood, and to display photos of themselves, friends and family.

One of the few gender differences observed was that women from both countries were more likely than men to describe themselves as physically attractive.

Mazur and Li concluded that the self-focus and feelings of anxiety of young Chinese social profile users likely reflected elements of both traditional collectivist culture and the dramatic changes of present-day China.

The research was conducted during Li’s sophomore year at Greater Allegheny, and Mazur and Li presented their initial findings at the annual meetings of the American Psychological Association in August 2011 as well as at the Annual Conference of the Association for Women in Psychology in 2013. Li is presently completing a joint doctorate in psychology and women’s studies at the University of Michigan and is scheduled to defend her dissertation this May.