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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Qingwen Dong

First Committee Member

Carol Ann Hackley

Second Committee Member

Alan Ray


Recent years witnessed incredibly increasing popularity of online social networking sites around the globe. The emergence of new social media, including online social networking sites, brings the communication world a brand-new area to explore. The success of Facebook and MySpace in the U.S. has attracted a considerate number of communication scholars to examine this phenomenon from different perspectives.

As the most cutting-edge tool to investigate a newly-grown medium, uses and gratifications perspective focuses on why people use social media, and how people use them to satisfy their needs. In this study, the most popular online social networking site in China, Renren, was selected to investigate the uses and gratifications of Chinese college students. Four motivations, that is, socializing, entertainment, self-status seeking, and information seeking, were utilized to measure how much weight Chinese college students give to each motivation.

Culture's impact on the usage of online social networking sites was also investigated. The concept of interdependent self-construal and independent self-construal was borrowed to examine how culture could play a role in SNS use among Chinese college students.

The study found Chinese college students use SNS to gratify their needs of socializing, entertainment, information seeking, while self-status seeking seems to be a weaker factor of SNS use. Six themes emerged in the study including: 1) vision and outlook expansion, 2) friendship maintenance, 3) a sense of self-worth, 4) information seeking, 5) entertainment, and 6) cultivated as a habit, to pass time. In addition, Chinese college students seem to have independent self-construal rather than interdependent self-construal, but the tendency is weak and self-report statistics show they tend to give moderate answers regarding to the self-construal. The influence of different self-construals towards motives in using Renren is subtle. Further explanations of observed finding were provided in the thesis.



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