This research compares how Chinese and American professionals visually self-present with professional profile pictures. Three studies were conducted. In Study 1, we surveyed 310 professionals in China and 215 professionals in the United States about preferred profile picture backgrounds for professional sites, such as LinkedIn and corporate webpages. Generally, Americans opted first for grey backgrounds more so than Chinese, and Chinese opted for blue and white backgrounds more so than Americans. Chinese and Americans both preferred office pictures over outdoor settings, although Chinese were more likely to choose office settings without views. In Study 2, we evaluated CEO profile pictures on corporate webpages of 100 Chinese CEOs and 100 American CEOs. Generally, Chinese CEOs project more formal, status-driven signals whereas American CEOs are more likely to display expressiveness. In Study 3, we evaluated the LinkedIn profile pictures and banners of 900 early-career finance professionals, including 300 American finance professionals, 300 Chinese finance profiles with English-language LinkedIn profiles (also referred to as cosmopolitan Chinese professionals), and 300 Chinese finance profiles with Chinese-language LinkedIn profiles (also referred to as domestic Chinese professionals). American women and cosmopolitan Chinese women are significantly more expressiveness than nearly all other groups, closely followed by Chinese domestic women and American men. Cosmopolitan Chinese men and domestic Chinese men are the least expressive. As far as professional profile pictures, we found that Chinese and American professionals tend to cluster into the following types: friendly professionals, corporate leaders, expressive leaders, casual professionals, and independents. These typologies involve various combinations of expressiveness and status displays. Each of these typologies effectively serves as a visual rhetoric of professional identity.
Cardon, Peter; Li, Hongqing; and Shi, Hanjing
"Displays of Status and Expressiveness in Professional Profile Pictures on LinkedIn and Corporate Websites: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of China and the United States,"
Global Advances in Business and Communications Conference & Journal:
Vol. 7, Article 4.
Available at: https://commons.emich.edu/gabc/vol7/iss1/4