Internet privacy concern

People differ in how much they are concerned about their personal information getting into the hands of someone (or other entity) they don’t know. When we aggregate individuals to cultures or nations, we find that ‘societies’ also differ in how concerned they are about privacy. What does this mean for global Internet platform design? What does it mean for user engagement? With these sorts of questions in mind, we continue to do research into predictors of societal differences in Internet privacy concern.

Sample publications

Thomson, R., Yuki, M., Ito, N. (2015). A socio-ecological approach to national differences in online privacy concern: The role of relational mobility and trust. Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 51, Part A, p. 285-292

Thomson, R. (2015, July 1). The cross-cultural psychology of Internet privacy concern. The Inquisitive Mind Blog. Retrieved from (easy-to-read summary)

Self-presentation online

There are many things that can influence how much or little we reveal of ourselves online. One of those is the nature of the society we live in. So far we’ve investigated cultural differences in self-promotion, and we’re also exploring how people in different cultures respond to context collapse. See the blog post below for some early results regarding self-promoting tendencies between the US and Japan on Facebook.

Thomson, R. (2014, August 30). Look at me! (Or don’t): Of society and showing off on Facebook. The Inquisitive Mind Blog. Retrieved from

Relational mobility

Working with Dr. Masaki Yuki and his Social Ecology and Psychology Lab at Hokkaido University, we are involved in the multi-national effort to understand better the ways in which our social environments affect human behavior and psychology. Part of that is investigating relational mobility – a society-level factor referring to the degree of freedom and opportunity people have in a society to form and dissolve interpersonal relationships based on personal preference (Yuki et al., 2007).

Sample publications

Kito, M., Yuki, M., & Thomson, R. (2017). Relational mobility and close relationships: A socioecological approach to explain cross-cultural differences. Personal Relationships, 24(1), 114–130.

Thomson, R., Yuki, M. (2015). How to win (and lose) friendships across cultures: Why relational mobility mattersIn-Mind Magazine, Issue 26, No. 6.

Online research methods

Now is an exciting time for cross-cultural research. Never before have we had such a large array of options for reaching people to take part in intriguing and important social science research: crowd-sourcing sites, social network sites like Facebook, and much more. At the Hokusei Gakuen University Digital Media and Society Lab, we not only research digital media, but also use digital media to research.

Sample publications

Thomson, R., Ito, N. (2014). Facebook advertisements for survey participant recruitment: Considerations from a multi-country studyInternational Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies. Vol. 5, No. 2, p. 199-218.

Thesis topics

2017 Undergrad Thesis Titles

Noie, R. (in prep). The phenomenon of the giri-like on Facebook.

Narita, Y. (in prep). To lock or not to lock? Account privacy on Twitter in Japan and the US.

Inoue, I. (in prep). #attention-seeking? Exploring motivations for hashtag use on Instagram in the US and Japan.

Ikehata, M. (in prep). Predicting Japanese film title translation preferences by film category and original title complexity.

Context collapse

Endou, K. (in prep). SNS audience strength in Japan and the US: Effects on posting sensitivity during job seeking.

Okada, E., (in prep). Context collapse on Facebook: Social category-dependent posting sensitivity in the US and Japan

2015-2016 Undergraduate Thesis Titles

The following theses were co-supervised by Robert Thomson at Hokkaido University, prior to the formation of the HGU Digital Media and Society Lab.

Tsubakihara, S. (2016). Interpersonal relationship diversity and conflict on Facebook: A Japan-US comparison considering particularized relational mobility (in Japanese). Unpublished graduation thesis.

Nakamura, K. (2015). Why do Japanese prefer anonymity? Investigating Japan-US SNS profile privacy from a socioecological perspective (in Japanese). Unpublished graduation thesis.