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C YBERPSYCHOLOG,B EHAVIO,ANDS OCIALNETWORKING Volume 15, Number 2, 2012 ª Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2011.0151 Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus? Examining Gender Differences in Self-Presentation on Social Networking Sites Nina Haferkamp, Ph.D., M.Sc., Sabrina C. Eimler, M.Sc., M.A., 2 3 3 Anna-Margarita Papadakis, B.A., and Jana Vanessa Kruck, B.A. Abstract Psychological research on gender differences in self-presentation has already revealed that women place higher priority on creating a positive self-presentation, while men are less concerned about the image they present in face-to-face (ftf) communication. Nowadays, with the extensive use of new media, self-presentation is no longer so closely tied to ftf situations, but can also take place in the online world. Speciﬁcally, social networking sites (SNS), such as Facebook or MySpace, offer various features such as proﬁle pictures, groups, and virtual bulletin boards with which users can create elaborated online representations of themselves. What remains open is whether this virtual self-presentation on SNS is subject to gender differences. Based on studies emphasizing gender-related differences in Internet communication and behavior in general, it can be assumed that men and women have different motives regarding their SNS usage as well. A multimethodological study, combining results of an online survey and a content analysis of 106 user proﬁles, assessed users’ diverse motives for participating in SNS in general, and their use of speciﬁc proﬁle elements or self-presentation in particular. In this sample of StudiVZ users, women tend to be more likely to use SNS for comparing themselves with others and for searching for information. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to look at other people’s proﬁles to ﬁnd friends. Moreover, women tend to use group names for their self-presentation and prefer adding portrait photos to their proﬁles, while men choose full-body shots. Introduction more task-and information-oriented. Women, for instance, spend more time writing e-mails, while men use the Web ocial networking sites (SNS), such as Facebook or more frequently for information seeking in general. These S MySpace, today offer a new arena for examining indi- observations conform to stereotypically assumed ofﬂine vidual differences, es1ecially those related to gender and In-ehavior and illustrate that gender is an 7mportant aspect in ternet communication. The worldwide popularity of these online research as well. Fittingly, Bimber concluded that Web sites across all age groups is unambiguously documented ‘‘around one-half of the ‘digital divide’ [.]ontheInternetis by the large usage numbers that exceed the populations of fundamentally gender related’’ (p. 813). The digital divide is many countries.2,3Users can easily create an individual onlinoften explained by the idea that the Internet is an inherently identity by uploading proﬁle pictures and adding personal male technology, which reproduces societal structures and 8–10 information. Except for information generated by others (e.g.behavioral dispositions. This results in gender-speciﬁc bulletin board postings), most of the displayed proﬁle infor-differences in SNS use, examples of which have been out- mation can be controlled and selected by the proﬁle owner. lined previously. However, the question yet to be resolved is This opportunity of presenting a multifaceted image on SNS, to what extent and in what dimensions self-presentation on which inevitably creates speciﬁc impressions, makes these sitesS differs between genders. Applying a multimethodological 5 all the more appealing to bo6h men and women. approach, this study examines whether strategies of self-pre- Well-established ﬁndings suggest that women’s online sentation on online proﬁles, as well as users’ motives for behavior is more interpersonally oriented, while men are fashioning online identities, are gender speciﬁc. 1 2Department of Media and Communication, Dresden University of Technology, Dresden, Germany. 3Department of Social Psychology: Media and Communication, University of Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Germany. Department of Communication, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany. 91 92 HAFERKAMP ET AL. Self-Presentation on SNS and Gender isting network of friends, whereas men are more interested in meeting new people with similar interests. A considerable body of research about networking pages, All the ﬁndings just outlined suggest that male and female in the tradition of the popular uses-and-gratiﬁcations para- users might have different motivations to host a proﬁle on 11 32 digm, focuses on the motives of creating user-generated SNS, leading to the following hypotheses: content.12–18Typical motivations for hosting an online proﬁle are interpersonal communication, entertainment, as well as H1: Female users put a higher priority on communicative 12,19 exchange via SNS than male users. self-presentation. Because the formatting ononline proﬁles H2: Male users put a higher priority on task- and informa- is user friendly, even less-experienced users can create an 19–21 tion-oriented behavior on SNS than female users. elaborated proﬁle of themselves. Unlike in face-to-face (ftf) communication, the reduced cues setting and potentially Moreover, our research focuses on speciﬁc differences be- tween men’s and women’s self-presentations; that is, which asynchronous communication enable users to select infor- mation they want to present in order to create a positive im- proﬁle elements are used in particular for creating an online identity on SNS. This in turn leads us to ask the following pression. Thus, users spend considerable time choosing information and reﬂecting about its potential effects. 21 While question: this selectiveness might be appealing to the user, because per- RQ1: Do men and women have different self-presentation sonal information can be embellished, 22 research has revealed strategies when using proﬁle features on SNS? the users’ desire to present an authentic image of themselves.21 Research on computer-mediated self-presentation has Since in most cases users list people they know from ftf as their 33 friends in SNS, fake information may be identiﬁed. emphasized the double meaning of groups on SNS ; the SNS users join groups not just for communicative exchange, but as Assuming that, as in ftf communication, gender determines behavioral (interaction) standards online, it is likely that gen- a strategy of self-presentation. Given that we know that women place a high priority on communication, one can as- der has a part to play in the form and content of messages and self-presentation conveyed online. Also, since on the gendered sume that they are more interested in communicative ex- 23 change via groups than men. Since research has not covered net a proﬁle owner’s gender is requested proﬁle information on SNS, people tend to be aware of the rules and behavioral this question yet, we therefore ask: 24 expectations resulting from their own gender. Especially for RQ2: What are the motives of men and women in joining ftf self-presentation, it has been reported that people indeed groups on SNS? want to conform to stereotypical gender-speciﬁc expectations, 24 Besides the active process of content creation for one’s own since ‘‘[p]eople who do not conform to stereotypic behavior may be punished through social rejection.’’ 25 Given that self-display, users are also confronted with self-presentations of other users when browsing through SNS. From a social– research on gender differences in self-presentation within ftf communication has already identiﬁed differences in self- psychological perspective, it can be argued that online pro- ﬁles are actively frequented by men and women to gratify presentation strategies, it is plausible to assume that some 21 aspects of gender norms are replicated on SNS. speciﬁc needs. For instance, Haferkamp and Kramer ¨ showed that social comparison appears to be a universal In ftf settings, women generally tend to disclose more motive for looking at strangers’ proﬁles online. However, personal information 26 and they more intensively strive for 27,28 according to their results, men and women seem to focus on the development of personal ties. Men, by contrast, have a different aspects of other people’s proﬁles for comparison. clearly more task-oriented usage behavior. Additionally, it is postulated that—independent from media usage—men’s More speciﬁcally, it was shown that for men, successful ca- reers displayed on others’ SNS proﬁles led to a more negative self-presentational behavior is notably marked by competi- tion and one-upmanship. 29 perception of the man’s own occupational status, while wo- men were less negatively inﬂuenced by ideal career descrip- With regard to gender-related online behavior, comScore data (February 2011) revealed that women spend 10 percent tions. This leads to the following research question: more time on SNS than men, and are also more active in RQ3: Are there different motivations for male and female SNS composing proﬁles. The ﬁrst studies on the meaning of var- users to look at other people’s online proﬁles? ious proﬁle elements on SNS illustrate that the characteristics described previously are also true for gender differences re- 1 Methods garding self-presentation online. Manago et al. showed that, for MySpace users, men’s online portrayals conform to ste- The study consisted of an online survey and a content reotypical norms of masculinity, emphasizing strength and analysis of user proﬁles. By using the messaging function, 500 power, while women tend to style themselves as attractive randomly selected members of the SNS StudiVZ, a German and afﬁliative. In a qualitative content analysis, Sveningsson equivalent of Facebook, received an invitation with a de- 30 Elm showed that women’s self-presentation on SNS was scription of the study and a personal access code. 359 of the more related to categories such as ‘‘relationships’’ and ‘‘feel- messaged members completed the questionnaire (response ings,’’ while men focused on the exposure of ‘‘status’’ and rate 71.8 percent). Out of these, 106 publicly accessible pro- ‘‘technology.’’ Also, qualitative interviews showed that men ﬁles were selected for content analysis (54 men, 52 women; put higher priority on describing their occupational status age: M=23.12, SD=3.12) (Note: The study was conducted in and prestige, while women focus on communication skills, 2010 at a time where StudiVZ proﬁles were predominantly especially within SNS groups. 21 Tufekci31 conﬁrmed that used without privacy settings.). 34 women primarily aim to increase their social capital by using Power analysis resulted in a power of 72.42 percent. Al- SNS. They are also generally more oriented toward their ex- though the recommended effect size of 80 percent is not GENDER DIFFERENCES ON SNS 93 reached, the exploratory style of this study justiﬁes the selected In addition to gender serving as independent variable, sample size. Before proﬁles were coded according to speciﬁc further sociodemographic variables, such as age and occu- categories, each participant was assigned a unique identiﬁca- pational activity, were assessed in the online survey to control tion number to relate the questionnaire data to the content for their potential impact. To determine the participants’ analysis (a sample proﬁle from StudiVZ is shown in Figure 1). motivations for hosting an online proﬁle, their membership in discussion groups, as well as their perception of other peo- Data analysis ple’s proﬁles, exploratory principal component analyses (PCA) were conducted with self-constructed items (rated on Content analysis was conducted by four coders who 5-point Likert scales; 0=strongly disagree, +5=strongly counted the number of friends, groups, photos, completed agree). We chose PCA to ﬁnd umbrella terms for variables ﬁelds, and number of words. Users’ revelation of (reportedly) that highly correlate with a factor. 35 The resulting factors, real names, political orientation, and relationship status as part of the style of the proﬁle text, as well as the type of photo,cribed in the ‘‘Principal component analyses’’ section, served as dependent variables. were also categorized. Fifteen percent of the data were coded by an additional person, allowing for the calculation of inter- rater reliability by means of Cohen’s j. The agreement of Principal component analyses coders (0.73 to 1.0) was good to excellent. The coded proﬁle Motivations of hosting an online proﬁle. The 23 items information also served as dependent variables. selected are based on the uses-and-gratiﬁcations scale,32with FIG. 1. Public online proﬁle of the German social networking site StudiVZ (www.studivz.net). 94 HAFERKAMP ET AL. a speciﬁc focus on SNS usage. PCA of these motive items people’s online proﬁles, using 17 items with 5-point Likert resulted in seven factors explaining 69.71 percent of variance scales. PCA resulted in ﬁve factors explaining a total of 68.08 (Table 1). The factors were called ‘‘self-presentation’’ percent of variance (for details, see Table 3). The factors were 2 2 (r =17.14 percent, M=1.79, Chronbach’s a=0.88), ‘‘enter- called ‘‘entertainment’’ (r=17.11 percent, M=2.95, a=0.83), tainment’’ (r 2=14.38 percent, M=3.14, a=0.82), ‘‘support’’ ‘‘information’’ (r=15.14 percent, M=3.44, a=0.70), ‘‘social 2 2 (r =8.84 percent, M=1.51, a=0.81), ‘‘promotion of career’’ comparison’’ (r =13.55 percent, M=1.93, a=0.77), ‘‘search- (r2=5.94 percent, M=1.63, a=0.60), ‘‘coordination’’ (r =4.99 ing for friends’’ (r2=11.79 percent, M=2.48, a=0.67), and 2 2 percent, M=2.89, a=0.63), ‘‘relationship seeking’’ (r =4.63 ‘‘inspiration’’ (=10.49 percent, M=2.16, a=0.69). With re- percent, M=1.52, a=0.63), and ‘‘cultivation of contacts’’ gard to data analysis, one-way ANOVAs were conducted, (r2=5.92 percent, 1 item). Although Chronbach’s alpha does with gender serving as the independent variable and the not prove satisfactory for the last four factors, we kept them above-mentioned dependent variables. With regard to de- due to the exploratory character of our research. Because of scriptive data, v tests were used. the small number of single items (2) and the low alpha value, we additionally conducted a Pearson correlation for the items Results of the factor ‘‘relationship seeking’’: it was shown that ‘‘to ﬁnd a partner’’ was positively correlated with ‘‘to meet new Sample people,’’ p>0.001, r=.525. About 68.3 percent of the 106 participants use StudiVZ Motivations for joining groups. Against the background every day. On average, these users have 215.23 (SD=103.24) friends listed, joined 35.19 (SD=21.15) groups, present 5.11 of the underlined importance of group names for self- (SD=7.01) photo albums, linked to 60.11 (SD=21.10) photos, presentation, we particularly wanted to know why users join and describe themselves with 59.89 (SD=66.18) words on the groups on SNS. Again, PCA was conducted with 18 self- proﬁle page. constructed items measured on a 5-point Likert scale, resulting in three factors explaining 60.38 percent of total variance (Table 2 Gender differences in motives 2). The factors were called ‘‘attention’’ (r =24.41 percent, M=1.60, a=0.87), ‘‘organization’’ (r =21.12 percent, M=2.13, H1 predicted that women would put a higher priority on 2 a=0.86), and ‘‘self-presentation’’ (r =14.85 percent, M=3.23, communication than men. However, our results show that a=0.76). the opposite is true, F(1, 104)=8.08, p=0.01, g p2=0.07. De- scriptive results suggest that men put a higher priority on Perception of other people’s online proﬁles. Finally, we relationship seeking (M=0.26; SD=1.14) than female users asked the participants about their perception of other (M=- 0.27, SD=0.75). Moreover, H2 postulated that men Table 1. Principal Component Analysis (Varimax Rotation, Eigen Values=1) of Motives to Use StudiVZ (n=106) Motive factor I use social networking sites. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 because I like presenting myself to others 0.832 to show myself, my interests, and my background 0.815 to express my personality 0.773 to show others who I am 0.770 because I want to communicate information 0.601 0.575 out of boredom 0.873 to kill time 0.864 to have fun 0.635 because I seek entertainment 0.592 to get information about others 0.501 0.410 because many of my friends use it too 0.418 to help others 0.832 to support others 0.777 to develop my career 0.685 to be part of the society 0.585 because it’s exciting 0.430 0.492 to coordinate appointments 0.839 to organize my studies and get in touch 0.459 0.669 with my costudents to exchange information with others 0.503 to meet new people 0.821 to ﬁnd a partner 0.692 to stay in touch with my friends 0.883 Explained variances (in percent) 17.24 14.38 8.82 8.40 8.06 6.90 5.92 GENDER DIFFERENCES ON SNS 95 Table 2. Principal Component Analysis (Varimax We also asked (RQ2) whether men and women use SNS Rotation, Eigen Values=1) of Motives groups for different motives. Although our ﬁndings did not of Joining Groups (n=106) show any quantitative differences with regard to the number Motive factor of groups displayed on male and female proﬁle pages, we found a signiﬁcant effect for the motives for using groups, F (1,101)=6.55, p=0.006, g 2=0.07. This suggests that women I join SNS groups. 1 2 3 p are more likely to use group names for self-presentation to appear attractive 0.844 (M=0.27, SD=1.0) than men (M=- 0.27, SD=0.93). so that others ask about them 0.805 to look intelligent 0.775 Descriptive results of gender-related SNS usage to get to know other people 0.733 because I want to be integrated 0.722 RQ1 asked whether men and women use proﬁle elements to ﬁll my proﬁle with information 0.671 differently for their online self-presentation. Indeed, with to be provocative 0.580 regard to the proﬁle photograph, we found a signiﬁcant dif- to look interesting 0.577 0.439 ference (v =6.16; p=0.05; see Table 4), suggesting that to organize things 0.851 to get informed 0.838 women prefer using a portrait photography, while men more frequently use full-body shots, also showing the environment because I use them 0.820 for communication and other people. 2 to deliver information 0.813 Furthermore, v tests reveal that men tend to edit their proﬁle picture more than women (v =9.83, p=0.02; see to plan my free time 0.793 because others invited me 0.419 Table 5). because they represent my humor 0.761 to show who or what I like 0.726 Perception of other people’s online proﬁles because they describe my personality 0.717 to show my interests 0.714 RQ3 asked whether there are gender-speciﬁc motives for Explained variances (in percent) 24.41 21.12 24.41 looking at other people’s proﬁles. Indeed, we found a sig- niﬁcant main effect for the motive ‘‘information,’’ F(1, SNS, social networking site. 104)=4.01, p=0.05, g p=0.04. This suggests that female users look at other people’s online proﬁles to get information about other people (M=0.20, SD=0.95) more than men (M=- 0.19, would be more likely to show task- and information-oriented SD=1.02). Moreover, an ANOVA revealed a signiﬁcant main behavior on SNS than women. However, with regard to effect for the motive ‘‘social comparison,’’ F(1, 104)=14.69, ‘‘coordination,’’ no signiﬁcant results were found. Thus, H2 p<0.001, g 2p0.12). This suggests that women (M=0.36, was rejected. Instead, our results show a signiﬁcant main SD=1.03) compare themselves with others more often than effect for the factor ‘‘entertainment,’’ F (1,104)=7.59, p=0.01,men (M=- 0.34, SD=0.84). gp2=0.07. Female users achieve higher values for the enter- Finally, an ANOVA revealed a signiﬁcant main effect for tainment motive (M=0.26, SD=0.94) than men (M=- 0.25, the motive of ‘‘searching for friends,’’ F(1, 104)=11.98, SD=1.01). p<0.001, g p2=0.10. This implies that men are more inclined to Table 3. Principal Component Analysis (Varimax Rotation, Eigen Values=1) of Motives to Look at Other Proﬁles (n=106) Motive factor I look at other proﬁles 1 2 3 4 5 because it’s fun 0.836 to make fun of others 0.810 out of boredom 0.715 out of curiosity 0.528 0.505 to be up to date 0.848 to get information about the particular person 0.720 to be informed about my friends 0.677 0.408 because the person visited my proﬁle before 0.411 to look at the ex of my partner 0.862 to compare myself with this person 0.708 out of jealousy 0.678 to observe others 0.421 0.424 0.510 to ﬁnd old friends 0.776 to search for new friends 0.691 to get to know other people better 0.672 to ﬁnd ideas for my own proﬁle 0.830 to ﬁnd new StudiVZ groups 0.428 0.754 Explained variances (in percent) 17.12 15.14 13.55 11.79 10.49 96 HAFERKAMP ET AL. Table 4. Proﬁle Photograph and Gender (n=106) of easily getting in contact with other people. In line with this, they may perceive browsing through online proﬁles as a Gender pragmatic and comfortable way of getting an overview about Categories Women Men Total existing friendships, new contacts, and potential spouses. From this, we may conclude on a more general level that men Portrait photo indeed use SNS for information seeking but not with regard Observed 34 23 57 to factual data or knowledge but rather for collecting infor- Expected 28.0 29.0 57.0 mation on their existing contacts and potential future net- Residuals 1.1 -1.1 work. On the contrary, women’s motives are driven by a Full-body shot (including environment) more hedonistic perspective of personal enjoyment and of Observed 17 27 44 self-presentation. This is also underlined by the result that Expected 21.6 22.4 44.0 women tend to use group names for individual, personality- Residuals -1.0 1.0 related self-presentation (i.e., hedonic aspects), whereas Total men use group names to search for friends (i.e., relation- Observed 52 54 106 ship seeking). As suggested by social–psychological ﬁnd- Expected 52.0 54.0 106.0 ings,9,36,3women are more concerned about how they are perceived by others. Consequently, online proﬁles perfectly accommodate females’ need for self-display, by offering the search for people when they look at other people’s online opportunity to consciously create, adapt, and edit one’s self- proﬁles (M=0.31, SD=0.97) than are women (M=- 0.33, presentation. In line with this, our ﬁndings regarding the SD=0.93). motives for the perception of proﬁles demonstrate that women tend to compare themselves with other users and Discussion search for information when they look at other people’s online proﬁles, whereas men follow the initial idea behind Various features provided by SNS for fashioning online proﬁles allow a much more detailed self-description than a social networking, which was to search for friends. casual ftf interaction. Assuming that ftf stereotypes and be- Surprisingly, while the analysis of the questionnaire data provided a variety of insights for future research, the content havioral expectations inﬂuence the way men and women fashion their proﬁles on SNS,36–38the reported study exam- analysis of the chosen proﬁle elements does not reveal many gender-related differences: women tend to use portrait pho- ined gender differences in underlying motives for using tographs, whereas men more often choose full-body shots. proﬁles, as well as with regard to speciﬁc self-presentation strategies. Prior studies on Internet communication high- Against the background of the results discussed above, one might postulate that the choice of portrait photographs is lighted that female users put a high priority on interper- sonal aspects of SNS usage, while men rather engage in related to women’s need for self-presentation. Moreover, information- and task-oriented behavior. However, our re- since physical attractiveness is an integral aspect of self- display, and it is more important for women to evoke positive sults regarding the general motives of hosting a proﬁle sug- 39,40 gest the opposite, revealing male StudiVZ users are more evaluations than it is for men, women might feel the need to disclose their appearance in detail. However, a major likely to search for new people (or even partners) than women, who favor entertainment. While surprising at ﬁrst limitation of the content analysis is that the quality of the glance, these ﬁndings can be explained by the observation pictures—that is, whether the photo shows the user in an extraordinarily positive manner—was not coded. It is thus that men primarily perceive SNS as a pragmatic communi- cation medium. For instance, Haferkamp and Kramer ¨ 21 difﬁcult to evaluate whether women tend to use idealized showed that men do not consider online proﬁles as platforms and extraordinarily beautiful portraits for self-display or whether they tend to present a realistic impression. Con- for self-portrayal, but rather appreciate the pragmatic aspect sidering that men are more likely to use edited proﬁle pho- tographs than are women in this study, one can guess that the Table 5. Original/Edited Proﬁle Photograph latter is true. Combining these two results, it may be assumed and Gender (n=106) that women selected portrait photographs which show them in a realistic manner. This assumption is in line with previous Gender 41 research by Hancock et al., showing that the magnitude of Categories Women Men Total deception on online proﬁles is rather small. On the other hand, men’s use of edited proﬁle pictures may be attributed Original proﬁle photograph to a desire to express their afﬁnity toward and expertise with Observed 43 34 77 technology (e.g., using Photoshop). Expected 37.8 39.2 77.0 Residuals 0.9 -0.8 All in all, we identiﬁed speciﬁc gender-related usage pat- terns of SNS. We argue that women reveal a more hedonistic Edited proﬁle photograph use—that is, they concentrate on entertainment and self- Observed 9 20 29 presentation—while men focus on the pragmatic functions of Expected 14.2 14.8 29.0 SNS. They perceive the aspect of searching for friends as much Residuals -1.4 1.4 Total more important than women do, whose primary goal is a creative and elaborated fashioning of online self-presentation. Observed 52 54 106 Naturally, our ﬁndings have certain restrictions, such as a Expected 52.0 54.0 106.0 rather small sample size and the focus on StudiVZ as a national GENDER DIFFERENCES ON SNS 97 SNS with a strong focus on university students. Given that 16. Raacke J, Bonds-Raacke J. MySpace and Facebook: applying most of the users are enrolled at universities, their usage pat- the uses and gratiﬁcations theory to exploring friend- terns might differ from users of other SNS such as MySpace or networkingsites.CyberPsycho olgy&Behavior2008;11:169–174. Facebook with much broader audiences. Also, the relatively 17. Kramer N, Winter S. Impression Management 2.0. The re- low reliability values are certainly a limitation. On the other lationship of Self-Esteem, Extraversion, Self-Efﬁcacy, and hand, while the extraction of a relatively high number of fac- Self-Presentation within Social network sites. 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