American and East Asian students’ Facebook pictures reveal where they grew up and can draw conclusions about values in the regions.
American students were likely to emphasise their faces in Facebook pictures, while Asians were more likely to include surrounding people and details. This would imply that Americans are more about the individual, while East Asians value community.
According to the study by Chih-Mao Huang at University of Illinois andDenise Park at University of Texas:
East Asians living in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan exhibited a predilection for context inclusiveness in their profile photographs, whereas Americans tended to prioritise their focal face at the expense of the background. Moreover, East Asian Facebook users had lower intensity of facial expression than Americans on their photographs. These results demonstrate marked cultural differences in context-inclusive styles versus object-focused styles between East Asian and American Facebook users.
The two studied Facebook pictures of hundreds of students in Illinois and East Asia.
Anecdotally, their study held for my Facebook picture and that of a Chinese friend.
Here’s my profile picture, which shows only my face:
And Kiki’s, which includes more surrounding details, like other party-goers:
Here’s a chart showing the ratio of how the face was featured in various pictures:
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