Atif Ur Rehman* and Yue Hua Wu
School of Media & Design, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, PR China
Received date: June 19, 2020; Accepted date: July 10, 2020; Published date: July 17, 2020
Citation: Rehman AU, Wu YH. The Effect of Social Media on Intercultural Adjustment. Global Media Journal 2020, 18:35.
Copyright: © 2020 Rehman AU, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Social media is a popular platform in our daily life in todays’ globalizing civilization. It affords us a framework where we be able to share material, awareness, messages and thoughts, through which consumers can interrelate with each other irrespective of the space. Intercultural adaptation concerns the procedure of evolving understanding over relations to increase the relentless of fitness so that the difficulties of new cultural atmosphere can encountered. Our research endeavors to examine the influence of social media on intercultural adaptation of Pakistani overseas scholars. The positive relationship with WeChat usage in our research indicates that an increase in culture integration by one unit means increase in one unit of WeChat usage. Both are directly proportions to each other in this research study. Besides, here is also a significant positive relationship amongst culture integration and social interaction. Questionnaire has distributed on Pakistani students studying in Shanghai, China. This study shows that Pakistani scholars have a habit of consumption social media and has developed further integrated into the Chinese’s culture throughout their adaptations. They also stay connected to their homes. The results of the analysis deliberated in this study and directions for future research were proposed.
Social media; WeChat usage; Intercultural adaptation; Pakistani student
Every culture across the world worth their individual opinions, traditions, and customs that make them unsociable. Although we have different geographical boundaries, but we are bridged by social media across the globe. The squeeze of space and time, owing to the merging of social media and globalization, has contracted the world into a much slighter interactive arena . As Chandrasen  presented, the word sojourner discusses to those personalities who momentarily exist in a foreign residence for doings i.e., learning and effort. The altered sub clusters of transitory foreigner residents incorporated in this span are international learners, military workforces, organization initiated and self-initiated expatriates and international aid workers . At the same time, International Organization for Migration recognized the speedy growth in the number of sojourners, which emphasized international sojourning as the foremost association influential the migration cause of the twenty first century .
In either case, cross-cultural adaptation is one of the biggest challenges for some people who are away from their own home and adapt themselves to their new socio-cultural environments. Numerous sojourners be unsuccessful to adapt healthy to the mark culture and language because of the absence of social connection with the multitude. In such circumstances, the character of social media is a deemed important to link them with their own culture and family back home and to provide new connections to adapt themselves with new culture by making friends in host culture. Given the importance of social media for sojourners, this research study is an exertion to discover the significance of the usage of social media, especially the consumption of WeChat, the maximum prevalent social media app in China, by Pakistani overseas students while adapting in China .
Pakistan and China have exchanged high-level visits and agreement i.e. CPEC project and Gwadar port (Karachi). China Pakistan Economic Corridor is an assortment of infrastructure developments that are presently underneath construction all the way through Pakistan. Both nation state engaged a considerable significance on each other in enlargement approaches. Shapiee and Idrees  said, Pakistanis are really pleased and honored in China. That is the reason that many Pakistanis are happy about their neighbor country. Many Pakistani are hoping to catch an employment in China or in Chinese enterprises in Pakistan. This study attempts to examine exactly how social media impacts on intercultural adaptation of Pakistani overseas scholars in People's Republic of China. In this research study WeChat tool has considered as a main case of social media tool in China due to its dominance among people in China. What role does WeChat play in a Pakistani student's daily communication in China? This study will help Pakistani students or employees to adapt well in China or other cultures by using social media technologies.
The persistence of our research is to investigate the influence of using WeChat regarding Pakistani scholars on the intercultural adaptation process in Chinese context.
Pakistan and China have retained extensive standing on the conservation of nearby and sustained relationship. The two countries have habitually swapped high level official visit and resulting in a multiplicity of contracts such as Gwadar Port, CPEC project, which is a part of China’s” One Belt, One Road” resourcefulness. The culture of Pakistan and China is completely different which needs much better understanding for a smooth cultural adaptation. This study will help Pakistani students or employees to adapt well by using new social media technologies in Chinese context.
Following the previous studies Xing, Popp, & Price , when cross-cultural people interact with each other, they change their communicative behaviors to ease understanding is an intercultural adaptation. As, social media represent all web based appli-cations which enable users to interact with each other and an important platform of communication. Moreover, Social media brings all the channels together that make possible the online communication. From posting on social media to sending a personal text message, there are endless usages of digital media . Sawyer and Chen  examined that WeChat is an essential model of social media tool. This stimulates the conversation of communications among the similar medium. Tencent first introduced WeChat in 2011. To measure the number of active WeChat users, two surveys were arranged by Tencent Chen. WeChat has millions active users across the world and more than 70 million outside of China. According to a survey Chen all over the world WeChat has 864 million active users, and over a billion created accounts. WeChat provides a platform to make a public profile, connect private profile to others, share information, view and transfer their list of connection.
Social media can used for many reasons. As a new locus for interaction, maintenance and relationship social broadcasting have attracted an enormous number of consumers round the world. This exceptional opportunity has delivered by social media where folks can com-municate online and share knowledge about different events, topics and perspective of issues about their choices. For instance, Sawyer and Chen  pointed out, social media is a dynamic process by which individuals can interact online regardless the remoteness that distinct them. Social media have become increasingly famous platform in current globalizing community of daily life. Moreover, without face-to-face interaction, social media brought users together to interact with other people and to be engaged in career related conversations and various online dialogues.
Y. Chen and Reay  said, internet has turn out to be one of the furthermost important media used by immigrants and they can interconnect with their friends and family members electronically with the native publics in host republic as well as in their inborn country frequently. This research study scrutinizes that how social media influence the intercultural adaptation of Pakistani scholars in Shanghai, P.R. China. The present study aimed to exam the model that outlines the four strategies of acculturation. Thus, we only confine the participants of this survey to Pakistani overseas students, whose choices are comparatively stable. However, demographics factors; age, gender, religion, length of residence in China and familiarity with another culture may also play an important role .
Acculturation is the process in which an individual’s need to go over and done with to convert changed to a dissimilar culture . For instance, migrants are required to adjust psychological and social behavior to be-come more faithfully integrated with the objective culture. For this purpose, they need to change in their mental and social behaviors. Chandrasen  said that psychological and physical changes owing to the adaptation essential in customs, housing, standards, interaction styles, environment and regime of a new social order. Plato discussed psychology of intercultural adaptation and debated that acculturation might affect social disorder. He was the earliest who recommended acculturation policies and described that societies strained to quarantine themselves as having chaotic personalities .
According to Lin, et al. , Cultural assimilation is the most important part of the acculturation process. Further, he said that how people from different cultural backgrounds adjust when there is a conflicting cultural and environment change has studied for many years. Similarly, like to acquire a fresh occupation in a different country, or a chance to study abroad. People have to adjust these difficulties in everyday life and their emotions they left behind like friends and family. Researchers have focused on in what way individuals practice technology to gain or accomplish social capital and novel social systems and to alter both psychologically and socially . However Depalo, Faini, and Venturini  argued, tougher link bonds will permit immigrants to have additional penetrating social associations with their dukes. But cultured persons might be at benefit here, as they could discovery it informal to expand their set of social interactions .
H1: The more the Pakistani overseas students using WeChat, the higher the level of social interaction with host.
Yu and Wang  posited that when two different cultural background groups integrated, the economically lesser restrained to bound lower social standing and suffer discrimination. Moreover, adaptation for a specific group of immigrants may be restricted by the immigrant ’ s own appreciations or perceptions and actions or reactions of another group of the acculturation settings where they live . As a common phenomenon, the international students desire and expect more contacts and an extensive literature on the interactions between domestic students and international students assembles to demonstrate that the amount of crossnational interaction is often low. The cross-cultural studies indicate that majority of international students have basic bonds with co-nationals, the greater the social interaction and less satisfaction relations with host will perceived greater culture distance from each other .
H2: The more likely the Pakistani overseas students are assimilated, the less likely to be separated.
Integration produces the best results and is the most preferred in the migrant’s adaptation throughout acculturation process . Foregoing readings have recommended that maximum of the immigrants have decent adaptation. It has also assumed that the utmost favored strategy is integration and the least marginalization. Social indicators of life quality and psychological health suggested that marginalization outcomes the most horrible results in the settler’s adaptation even though interaction seems the record preferred approach. The same researchers pointed out that immigrants might vary in the rapidity of the progression, but the result invariably is adaptation to the mainstream culture.
H3: The more social interaction of Pakistani students with host, the higher the level of integration to the new culture.
Kagan, et al.  speculated that marginalization occur when individuals have no psychological or cultural relation with their outdated beliefs or the bigger society. To be more specific, different people will act differently to marginalization conditional on their particular and social resources obtainable to them. Similarly, marginalization has linked to social status and it is a shifting phenomenon. For example, individuals or groups at one point might enjoy high social status, as social change occurred but they might lose social status, and become marginalized.
H4: The more the Pakistani overseas students integrated into the Chinese society, the less they seem to be marginalize.
The objective population of our research is Pakistani overseas scholars who are studying in Shanghai. Two hundred twenty five questionnaires has distributed among Pakistani students in Shanghai by hand and got back 218 with responses. A survey method has used for this research study. Participants has questioned about their intercultural adaptation in China, social media usage, social interaction and communication style with Chinese. Altogether, participants has knowledgeable that contribution was intentional and that replies has reserved confidential. Maximum questionnaires has approached independently, in other circumstances questionnaires were cluster oversaw in classrooms and the questionnaire has complete out separately.
The author framed questionnaire in such a way that we know the different dimensions of intercultural adaptation. It was a self-report questionnaire which measured four dimensions of acculturation out lined by Berry, Phinney, Sam, and Vedder (2006) assimilation, separation, integration and marginalization, like, clothing style, pace of life, food, religious beliefs, material comfort, recreational activities and accommodations/ residence etc. Closed form questions has put in esteem to the study objectives and emphases for the existing reading. The author refers to Berry ’ s scale and changed few items to make it appropriate to the Pakistani scholars in China. A report consists of 30-item, which measures four extents of acculturation sketched by Berry: assimilation (7 items), integration (8 items), separation (8 items) and marginalization (7 items). A 5-point type Likert style (strongly disagree=1, strongly agree=5) has used to measure.
The culture assimilation has measured by seven items (a=0.74). Contributors were requested to testimony on a 5- point Likert scale (Strongly disagree=1 to strongly agree=5). Our first item is clothing style (CS) and the basic rationale was to know that whether Pakistani students maintain their own clothing style. Similarly, they maintain a pace of life (POL) which is identical to peers in their own country. Furthermore, the author also tried to find that weather the Pakistani students sustain an eating style of own culture, so we took (Food) is one more measuring item. If they have any religious beliefs (RB), to know whether it is coequal to the Chinese or to the people from their own culture, has tested as another item. The work also tried to check the living standard of Pakistani students, so we took an item of material comfort (MC). Moreover, the students are usually going to parties, bar and KTV etc. and we tested an item of recreational activities (RA).
An individual also requires some of the cultural values and attitudes while using an additional language might mature a mentality that is somewhat shaped by the ethics allied with that subsequent language culture . Therefore, we develop few questions about values (V) and Accommodations (A), to know that the students are living in a community where there are a lot of Pakistanis and Chinese people and they maintain cultural values of both countries. The author also investigated the communication style (COS) of students and tried to check whether Pakistani students participate in cultural activities (CA) held by both Chinese and own culture group. As Ralston, et al.  stated, culture independently impact thought directly or indirectly over the socialization of the individual inside a culture. In addition, we take social customs (SC) and Friends (F) as an items to measure and tried to know either they maintain a good friendship network with both Chinese and own cultural people. To measure all these items, the author used a 5-ponit Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 5=strongly agree) with a reliability of .82.
The culture separation measure confined eight substances. Respondents ranked the degree to which they agree or disagree with convinced declarations on a 5-point Likert scale (strongly disagree=1, strongly agree=5). Unambiguously, respondents were questioned to judge the clothing style, pace of life, food, accommodations, recreational activities as well as their religious beliefs about whether they maintain their own or not. The scale had a reliability of a=0.72.
To measure culture marginalization, contributors were queried to account on a 5-point Likert scale (strongly disagree=1, strongly agree=5) their aptitude of creation friends, values, communication style, cultural activities, language and social duties in the defendant’s actual lifetime. The gage was entirely innovative and limited seven items, with a reliability of a=0.76.
People spend a lot of time on using WeChat, and its users are increasing day by day. In the current study, author intent to discover the effect of WeChat on intercultural adaptation. As WeChat and Facebook both are social media tools so we used Multidimensional Facebook Intensity Scale (MFIS), these scales focused on how long one have been using WeChat, time passed on WeChat per day, the number of WeChat friends, their social contacts, some of the WeChat activities and writings posts on WeChat every day . Eight items were used to degree and each item were checkered on 5-Likert scales (strongly disagree=1 to strongly agree=5) with a reliability of a=0.73. Two independent variables, nonfamiliarity with Chinese culture and Chinese proficiency has tested to know that how much these variables have impact on dependent variables.
This part of the study will examine the survey and data collection, frequency distribution, the usage of WeChat, correlation and regression line analysis.
The descriptive statistics of Pakistani overseas students has generated before conducting the factor analysis. Percentages and frequencies of Demographics and other variables has analyzed by SPSS. This sample had a huge percentage of 176 male defendants with a percentage of 80.7% and 35 female with a percentage of 16.1%. Participants were aged from 23 to 43, with a normal age of 27 (SD=3.92). Of the 218 respondent 92.2% were Muslims, 3.7% were Hindus and 1.8% was Christian. Concerning the uppermost level of education, 76.1% of the students are Ph.D., 18.8% Pakistani students are masters and 0.9% is undergraduate students. In all, 57.8% of Pakistani students are single, 39.4% are married students and unlucky there is only one divorce student.
The author divided Pakistani students into five basic groups, based on their spam of time in Shanghai. According to the Figure 1, the average length of residence is 2.39 years (SD=1.23). Sixty three (28.9%) students indicating less than a year, but more than two years students are fifty eight (26.6%), two years or above but less than three years students are fifty one (23.4%). Three years or above but less than four years students are twenty four (11.0%), and those students who are studying four years or above are sixteen (7.3%).
The result of this research shows that 80.56% of Pakistani overseas students think that WeChat is the best social media platform that they ever used in China (M=41.3 and SD=0.78). It also explores that 64.63% of students believe that WeChat helped them a lot to make new friends in a host country (M=3.76 and SD=1.08). According to Ju, et al. , social media empowers scholars to uphold preceding connections and generate novel relationships throughout their transitions to a fresh situation. Based on results, 73.33% students agreed that WeChat helped them a lot to keep in touch with friends and family (M=3.88 and SD=0.86). Similarly, 51.92% of Pakistani students likes to see other people's activities on WeChat (M=3.43 and SD=0.99). As Harrison, et al.  said that internet might deliver, maintain and create different kinds of social wealth. The data found that 55.98% students (M=3.53 and SD=0.99) think that the use of WeChat is much more effective as compare to the other social media.
Correlation analysis has used in this study to see the association among different relevant variables. However, it gives a rough picture of the relevancy of the variables but does not reveal us about the purpose. At this stage, the author also used the same methodology and we study the association of social interaction with other variables (Table 1).
Table 1: Inter-correlation matrix of all constructed variables.
As revealed in Table 1, here is a significant negative correlation amid social interaction and education status (r=-0.01), age (r=-0.01) and gender (r=-0.10). The result also reveals that nearby is a significant positive correlation amongst social interaction and assimilation, integration, seeking friends and activities. Acculturation of worldwide scholars is dissimilar to the cultures anywhere they are alive and altered acculturation results of lifetime consummation and mental happiness. The challenges that they face can be social adjustment, non-familiarity with culture and study pressure Yu and Wang . The above data has shown a significant positive correlation between assimilation and social interaction (r=0.20**, p<0.01). Thus, the more they have social interaction, the more likely the students has assimilated.
However, Berry, et al. ; Yu and Wang  said, when two groups are integrated, the interactions amongst acculturation scales differ as an occupation of the immigrant or cultural group's social standup within the massive population and their occasion to go in into the multitude culture. We can also see a positive sign between integration and social interaction. The data shown that there is a positive significant correlation between social interaction and integration (r=0.21**, p<0.01). It illustrates that the more likely the Pakistani overseas students are using social media the more likely to integrate. The main reasons are that they have many Chinese friends and they like to attend cultural activities held by Chinese groups.
A student wish to communicate for interaction with a host after they move. Mostly, the international students do not know deeply about the host culture, once they change from their culture to alternative. In such situation, they always try to have social interaction with host and looking for contact that is more social. In the current study, the data also shown a significant positive correlation between social interaction and seeking friends (r=0.16*, p<0.05). The desire for intergroup interaction increases if an out-group representative seen as similar as a self is. Moreover, it seems likely that associating out group members with the self is a promising lane towards positive intergroup relation .
The data explicates a positive significant correlation between social interaction and activities (r=0.16*, p<0.05). On the other hand, we can assume that all these associations depend on one another rather than education status, age and gender. The data clearly proves that when students move from one to another culture, they have a best social platform through which they can integrate themselves into the host.
No significant differences were bring into being between social interactions and using WeChat. Therefore, we fail to reject the null hypothesis of no relationship; means WeChat usage does not affect social interaction (H1). Berry, et al.  pointed out, separation or ethnic orientation be able to be helpful in nearly circumstances. Separation contributes to mutually kinds of adaptation, but to a slighter amount than integration. There was a strong significant positive relationship between culture assimilation and separation (r=0.26**, p<0.01). Means they are directly proportion to each other and we fail to reject the null hypothesis again (H2).
Social interaction is significantly positively correlated with integration (r=0.21**, p <01). Thus, the more likely the Pakistani students have social interaction with Chinese, the higher the level of integration to the new culture (H3). In the same way, there was a strong negative significant correlation amongst integration and marginalization (r=-0.20**, p<0.01). The more the Pakistani students has integrated into Chinese society, the less they seem to be marginalize (H4). According to Berry, et al. , existence elaborate in equally cultures (integration) assisted to sponsor enhanced socio cultural and psychological adaptation, while being tangle in neither cultures (Marginalization) destabilized both practices of adaptation.
Correlation analysis does not analyze the relationships between different variables. As it just shows the association between it. To restrain such obstacles: regression analysis was used in this research study to exam the relationships amongst variables. As we already know that a regression line is a line drawn through the points on a disperse plot to compress the relationship between the variables under discussion. As the key concerned of this study was to estimate the reasonable impact of defined variables on the dependent side. Therefore, the author used the linear regression analysis to investigate the underline hypothesis.
Results of linear regression on the four dependent variables (assimilation, integration, separation and marginalization) has conducted and reported in the appendix. The main purpose of running a regression line was to quantify the results. Based on the results, there is a significant and positive relationships between culture assimilation and social interaction (b=0.19, t=2.52 and p=0.01). The linear regression also directed a significant effect among culture integration and non-familiarity of Chinese culture (b=0.20, t=2.67 and p=0.008). The Table 2 also shown a significant relationship between culture integration and WeChat usage (b=0.18, t=2.17 and p=0.03). The positive relationship with WeChat usage indicates that an increase in culture integration by one unit means increase in one unit of WeChat usage. As both are directly proportions to each other. Besides, here is also a significant positive relationships amongst culture integration and social interaction (b=0.23, t=3.10 and p=0.002)
|Model||Assimilation Prob.||Integration Prob.||Separation Prob.||Marginalization Prob.||T-test|
|Spam of time||.444||.495||.834||.135||3.33|
Table 2: Linear regression model for dependent variables.
Similarly, the last but not least result is association between culture separation, religion and WeChat usage in the Table 2. Linear regression shows a positive impact of culture separation on religion (b=0.15, t=1.93 and p=0.05). This result also shows that there is a negative significant relation between culture separation and WeChat usage (b=-0.20, t=-2.37 and p=0.01). Thus, on the bases of this research studies and results it might concluded that acculturations and other variables affect each other’s. The overall result is significantly positive.
Our research study used Pakistani scholars as a sample to discover student’s involvements adapting to a novel culture and exact attention has positioned on the practice of social media. The outcomes of our study illustrate the prominence of how using social media and looking for connections with multitude impact intercultural adaptation. From the survey’s report, one be able to suppose that students continue, build and strengthen relationships over social media. An important factor for communicating is interactions and conversation with host people. These relationships and connections are important for culture assimilation and integration with host country.
Even though Pakistani students have numerous communication gears, indications here exemplify that face-toface communication is the finest sort of host communication. However, the element that Pakistani scholars do devote their time on everyday base on using WeChat validates their enthusiasm and challenge to discover Chinese society and found native networks with multitude. This finding reproduces the disagreement; online relationships are typically an extension lead of real-life social nets Ju, et al. . Social media and additional online stages of communication positively forecast student’s acculturation development. Readthrough people is standing and looking everywhere, such submissive interpretations also redirect a very functional perseverance to their acculturation. Additionally, detecting interactions through social media counterbalances extraordinary level of anxiety, strangeness and indecision which might result from cross cultural meets.
Before arriving in China, result shows that Pakistani students mentioned about using WeChat to come to be extra conversant with the Chinese way of life and to appreciate civilizations and cultural customs. Moreover, WeChat helped them to be inform on different point of view and recognizing the different impressions and simply being aware create a wide view perspective on cultures. Simultaneously, social media links societies to home countries and to their host. Relationships are strengthening from their social media custom, which benefits students to overcome modification with host and inaugurate a sense of belonging and community.
The discoveries of this reading can advantage to the educational institutions that endeavor to advance the worldwide student’s acculturation into Chinese society. The present study proposes that educational institutions should admit the position of social media for international scholars, as social media gears greatly subsidize to their adaptation procedure. To involve foreign students, institutions should deliberate social media as additional platform to interconnect with them and permitting them to study about native culture.
The first research question (RQ1) inquiries the nature of communication difficulties, experiences by Pakistani students in China. After analyze with descriptive statistics it clearly consisted of items representing Pakistani student’s concern about interpersonal relationships and communication with members of the host country. Based on the data, 39% of students have poor Chinese language proficiency (M=2.47 and SD=0.98) and 23.4% (M=2.09 and SD=0.82) are not familiar with Chinese culture. An understanding of characteristic differences in communication motive is prerequisite for a social skills access to a culture learning Bochner. A 60.18% (M=3.67 and SD=1.11) Pakistani students found it hard to communicate with people. Thus, we can say that the present study offers evidence of communication difficulties experiences by Pakistani students with host (Table 1).
This study further tested the relationship between the degree of communication difficulties and their level of adaptation to new culture (RQ2). Based on the results, majority of Pakistani students claimed that they live in a community where there is large number of both Chinese and Pakistani people and they make efforts to improve their Chinese language proficiency. Also 69.48% (M=3.86 and SD=1.00) students illustrate that they like to attend culture activities held by both Chinese and Pakistanis. Unfortunately, 0.9% (M=2.47 and SD=0.98) students can speak excellent Chinese language. According to Sheldon Lin, et al. , people who build online relationships tented to communicate in real life too. Further, he suggested that extroverted individual’s interest from social networking site more than in-troverted individuals (Table 1).
RQ3 and RQ4 explored the interactions with different friend groups on WeChat in a host. The results of the descriptive statistics analysis presented in Table 1 indicated that Pakistani students with a cumulative percent of 86.3% (M=3.16 and SD=1.13) are using WeChat as a communication tool in China. The results also revealed that the student likes to add new friends on WeChat and 80.56% (M=4.13 and SD=0.78) considered it the best social media tool that they ever used. Majority of students alike to see people’s activities and 73.33% (M=3.88 and SD=0.86) students said that WeChat help them to keep in touch with friends and family (Table 1). Research question five (RQ5), what are the statistical significant predictors of intercultural adaptation? Result shows that there is a statistically positive relationship between culture separation and religion (Table 1). The main reason is the change of taste of food and religious concerns. Especially for the Muslims pork is forbidden to eat, also Hindus do not eat beef. It means that any religious barriers can separate sojourners from the host country.
Therefore, on the bases of results, it can be concluded that authority of the host should manage properly, by keeping in mind the religious concerns of the students. Based on this research study, there is a positive significant relationship between culture assimilation and social interaction. Moreover, there is also a statistical positive relation between integration, social interaction and WeChat usage. It shows that they all directly proportional to each other’s. The increase or decrease of one unit will affect the other side. As Lin, et al. said, inaugurating a social setup in a multitude is significant for adjustment.