Research Interests

Between- and within-nation differences in SNS behavior

My research here explores the nature of offline social environments (specifically relational mobility) between and within nations, and how those differences account for cross-cultural differences in behavior online. For an easy-to-read primer on my approach, check out my most recent guest blog post (600 words) about self-promotion on Facebook, on the Inquisitive Mind blog.

Within this approach I have (or am currently) investigating between- and within-country differences in:

  • Online privacy concern
  • Online self-promotion
  • Strategies in response to online context collapse

Relational mobility

A large-scale cross-cultural validation of Yuki et al.’s 2007 relational mobility scale.

Relational mobility is the degree to which individuals have the freedom and opportunity to form and sever relationships within a particular society or social context (see Yuki & Schug, 2012).

Yuki et al. (2007)  developed a 12-item scale to measure relational mobility in an individual’s social environment. The two-factor scale has robust stability across samples in the US and Japan, however has not yet been tested in a large sample of countries. I am leading a project to validate the scale in 40 countries.

2018 UPDATE: The study is now published in PNAS. Data visualization here:

Thomson, R., Yuki, M., Talhelm, T., Schug, J., Kito, M., Ayanian, A., Becker, J., Becker, M., Chiu, C. Y., Choi, H., Ferreira, C. M., Fülöp, M., Gul, P., Houghton-Illera, A. M., Jaosoo, M., Jong, J., Kavanagh, C., Khutkyy, D., Manzi, C., Marcinkowska, U. M., Milfont, T. L., Neto, F., von Oertzen, T., Pliskin, R., San Martin, A., Singh, P., Visserman, M. L. (2018). Relational mobility predicts social behaviors in 39 countries and is tied to historical farming and threat. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1713191115

Online large-scale cross-cultural research recruitment methods

The Internet affords great opportunity for accessing hard to reach human samples around the world. Online survey research also presents challenges: mere access to a survey does not guarantee participation. Part of my writing efforts is dedicated to sharing my own experiences with the promise and pitfalls of participant recruitment online (see Thomson & Ito, 2012).

Research Projects

  • Offline social ecologies and Internet behavior

    Investigating relational mobility's effect on self-expression online.

    A three year JSPS funded research project, this project investigates how offline social realities affect individuals’ self-expression and privacy concerns online. Studies under the umbrella of this project have included those investigating online privacy concern, self-promotion, and strategies in response to context collapse online.

  • World Relationships Study

    A 40-country validation study of Masaki Yuki's relational mobility scale.

    Follow the project on Facebook: The World Relationships Study Also part of the Offline Social Ecologies and Internet Behavior project above, this project is a large-scale cross-national study aimed at indexing levels of relational mobility (see Yuki & Schug, 2012) in countries and regions of the world. Doing so will help us explore the wider implications of variation in relational mobility on self-disclosure, interpersonal similarity, intimacy, cooperation within groups, and others.

  • High Arousal Rituals - Effect & Interactions

    An Oxford University project exploring ritual's effect on groups. Photo by Chris Kavanagh.

    Photo by Chris Kavanagh. I am one of two co-investigators on this John Templeton/Oxford University funded project. The project investigates the impact shared and dysphoric rituals have on group cohesion, identity formation, and recall. Part of Oxford University’s Ritual, Community, and Conflict project, headed by Harvey Whitehouse.

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