Self-expression and relationship formation in high relational mobility environments: A study of dual users of American and Japanese social networking sites

Int J Psychol. 2017 Jun;52(3):251-255. doi: 10.1002/ijop.12208. Epub 2015 Sep 3.


This study proposes that self-expression motivation, an aspect of independent/individualistic psychological tendencies, aids in the formation of social relationships when social relationships are open and mobile. In societies characterised by high relational mobility (e.g., North America), which creates market-like competition in social relationships, individuals must express their uniqueness and worthiness to form new social relationships. Self-expression motivation has a relatively weak effect on relationship formation in low relational mobility societies (e.g., Japan), where social relationships are generally predetermined. This hypothesis was examined and supported through a study on dual users of two social networking sites-Facebook and Mixi (the "Facebook of Japan"). As expected, relational mobility was higher on Facebook than on Mixi. Moreover, the association between self-expression motivation and the number of new friends met on Facebook/Mixi was more positive for Facebook than it was for Mixi. The social functionality of independent tendencies is then discussed.

Keywords: Independent culture; Individualism; Relational mobility; Self-expression; Social networking sites.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Social Networking*
  • United States