Date of Award

December 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Media Studies


Carol Liebler


cultural orientation, profile picture, self-presentation, social motivation

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


The goal of this research is to explore the differences in the motivation of profile picture selection on social media using survey methodology. Prior research regarding profile pictures has focused on the reception of users, but the motivations behind choosing profile pictures remain unanswered. The study focuses on the profile pictures selecting process, which is the process behind users’ choice of pictures that appear with their name and biography on social media accounts. The study will compare social media users in China and the United States to explore whether users from different cultural backgrounds (i.e., independence or interdependence) report different profile picture motivations (i.e., self-expression, self-awareness, social belongingness, and impression management), and whether these motivations and cultural orientation result in different preferences for types of profile pictures (e.g., romantic, socialize, close up).


Open Access



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