Asian Journal of Journalism and Media Studies
Online ISSN : 2189-8286
A Study of the Information Behavior of Chinese Youth, Focusing on the Relevance between Media Access and Status Quo Evaluation
Hui Jiang
ジャーナル フリー HTML

2019 年 2 巻 p. 57-73


This study focuses on Chinese young people and examines their information behavior and its effects. This study is based on the results of a questionnaire survey conducted by several universities in seven regions of mainland China in 2012 . Following an examination of the status of media use and the results of “Lifestyle-value Test” and analyzing the correlation between the two, the study further explores the effects of daily media use on the international orientation, the evaluation of the government, and the life satisfaction of young Chinese.

The results revealed that Chinese youth’s media use is mostly concentrated in online media. Specifically, the usage rates of instant messaging, social networking sites (SNS), and video sites were significantly higher than those of other media. The use of traditional paper media, such as newspapers and magazines, and broadcasting was relatively low. There was no significant difference in daily media usage rates between regions. In contrast, the difference between men and women was relatively significant. Additionally, a strong association was found between the use of SNS, overseas media and international orientation, and evaluation of the government, but there was a lack of consistency in the direction of relevance to life satisfaction.

Although it cannot be established that media use has led to the formation of a specific consciousness, it can be inferred as a means of promoting the original consciousness. Media use promoted the manifestation of the youth’s attitudes and created a phenomenon in which pluralistic opinions coexist.

1. Introduction

Researchers in the field of social information science have been paying attention to the effect of media use as early as the 1940s, specifically to how media use affects people’s ideology and influences their behavior. From radio and television to the Internet today, research in this field is constantly accumulating important data. Numerous studies have shown that the effect of media use is not only related to the form of the media and the information they disseminate, but also to the people who use it, the temporal context the regional culture, and the interactions with other media. Therefore, specific problems need to be analyzed with actual data and examples.

Accordingly, the present study focuses on the information behavior of present-day Chinese youth for three reasons. First, Chinese society is currently undergoing an important period of historical transformation. It is a time of rapid economic development, which results in an increasing number of social problems. Second, China has a large population, with 28.8% of the population under the age of 25. The number of young people is approximately 330 million,1 and the impact of their behavior and consciousness on society cannot be underestimated. Third, the Internet is spreading rapidly in China, and the growing massive user base deserves high attention.

The present study will therefore examine the information behavior of Chinese youth in their daily lives through empirical research, analyze the effect of their information behavior on their ideology, and explore the relationship between media and youth in contemporary Chinese society.

2. Literature Review and Hypotheses

2.1 Information Behavior and Related Research Methods

“Information behavior” refers to all behaviors related to the information people receive and exchange, including media use and all the communication activities between people. In fact, only after decades of exploration and examination did researchers realize the immense societal changes brought about by people’s information use and begin to systematically examine their information-related behavior.

Japan has conducted several surveys since 1958 through 2015 to understand information and media use and distribution. (Ikeuchi et al., 1960; MIAC, 2006; Hashimoto, 2016). The data from these aforementioned surveys record decades of changes in Japanese information behavior, and reflect the process of Japanese social information development. However, with the popularity of the Internet, people’s information lives are becoming increasingly diversified, and the above investigations have revealed some problems in the process over the course of time.

Accordingly, MIAC held the “Information Distribution Index Study Group” in 2009, which modified the previous investigation methods and released a new indicator called the “information distribution index” (MIAC, 2009). In this index, the amount of “information” that needs to be measured is clearly divided into two categories: the amount of circulation information and the amount of consumption information. The former refers to “all information transmitted to the information acceptance point using media,” while the latter refers to “received information that information consumers can recognize at the level of consciousness” (MIAC, 2011). This is significant because in the Japanese government’s previous investigations, the focus was only on the amount of information transmitted by the sender of the information, that is, the “amount of circulation information”; how much information was received, understood, or used by people was not taken into consideration.

Such surveys usually use the unit “bit” of digital information as a common unit of measure, but using this unit posed great difficulties after the advent of the Internet. Researchers must therefore think about the practical significance of this kind of measurement, meaning whether the “the amount of circulation information” can reflect people’s actual information usage. In this context, the focus of the investigation of people’s information behavior has shifted from information senders to information receivers, and the “amount of consumption information” has gradually become a mainstream concept in this field. The aforementioned “Japanese information behavior” series of surveys is a representative example. The survey comprised a diary survey and a questionnaire. The diary survey asks respondents to record all information behaviors that occurred within the previous 48 hours in units of 15 minutes (Institute of Socio-Information and Communication Studies of the University of Tokyo, 2001, p. 4).

Compared with Japan, China’s systematic investigation of national information behavior began late. The National Bureau of Statistics of China implemented the 2008 “Time Use Survey” of residents’ daily lives for the first time in May 2008, and investigated all the information-related activities of residents of ten provinces and cities on the mainland for two days, one working day and one rest day (National Bureau of Statistics, 2009). This large-scale survey was organized by state agencies, but not only does it have many areas for improvement in terms of sample size, survey methods, and survey items (Jiang & Ma, 2014) but it also has an overly long time interval between the two investigations, and the use of media is generally classified as leisure time, without further analysis. Therefore, a significant methodology issue persists in China’s information behavior investigation.

Among various media surveys , the following TV ratings and broadcast listening rates are conducted by CSM Media Research2: the National Reading Survey by the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication (Wei & Xu, 2018) and the “Statistical Report on Internet Development in China” by China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC, 2018). These data play a very important role in understanding the media usage of Chinese nationals and the development of the media industry. However, because the implementation time, objectives, and methods of the above surveys are different, it is difficult to horizontally compare the data. Therefore, to systematically understand the information behavior of the Chinese people, conducting a comprehensive investigation taking into account the social media development in China is necessary. The present study, therefore, used Chinese youth as a survey group to explore how they choose and access information in a diverse media environment and examine the impact of such information behavior.

2.2 Information and Attitude Formation

The relevance of information and attitude formation is a hot topic in the field of social informatics; how people’s attitudes toward things are generated and undergo changes deserves attention. Many studies have analyzed this complex psychological process in the past. Based on the results of prior studies, Sakaki (2004, p.86) divided its influencing factors into internal (individual personalities and achieving psychological goals) and external aspects (face-to-face communication, school education, and media information).

However, researchers have reached no consensus about how much external information affects the formation or modification of people’s attitudes and beliefs (and consequently actions). Relevant discussions began in the field of media effect research as early as the 1940s. Rich theoretical achievements have been accumulated, from the theory of strong effect to the theory of limited effect, and the complexity of this problem has even been discussed in many studies (Tazaki & Kojima, 2003). The impact of external information on attitude formation has been verified to some extent, but the intensity and direction of its impact remain unclear. The following conclusions can be drawn from the research findings on “attitude.” Whether persuasion can successfully change people’s attitudes is closely related to the following four factors: (1) the persuading side, (2) the to-be-persuaded side, (3) the content and presentation of the message, and (4) the context of the persuasion (Hara, 2009, p. 106). It can be thus inferred that if external information is regarded as a kind of persuasion, whether people’s attitudes change depends on the sender, the receiver, the content, the mode of information transmission, and the communication environment.

Media’s influence on the formation of people’s attitudes has also been confirmed to some extent in some prior studies. For example, a survey of Japanese university students shows that in the formation of social values of young people in Japan , the role of mass media is very significant compared with the role of school factors, family factors, and friend factors (Uemura et al, 1991, pp. 149-150).

The Internet, which has developed rapidly in recent years, has received extensive attention. However, due to the particularity of its political system and media environment, China has generated certain sensitivity in related fields and different perspectives in research. For example, with the advancement of the political system reform of the Chinese government, the significance of citizens’ government evaluation has become more valued and gradually become one of the ways of government performance evaluation (Liu, 2010, pp.177-178). Therefore, the impact of Internet use on the formation of people’s political attitudes and participation in political activities has triggered many discussions. A study based on a Chinese youth group found that the higher the frequency of Internet use, the lower their trust in the government, evaluation of the government, and sense of social justice (Lu & Duan, 2015, p. 61; Tian & Sun, 2016, p. 18). However, different types of media have different influences on different types of Chinese people’s political behaviors, but the impact of the Internet on promoting people’s participation in the corresponding political behaviors is limited (Zang, Lao, & Meng, 2013, pp. 74-75). Thus, the use of the Internet can potentially influence the political attitudes of Chinese youth, but further research is needed on the extent and direction of its impact.

Regarding the cultivation of patriotism and Internet use, domestic discussion in China is more concerned with using the new media environment to guide young people to form ideal patriotic behavior and thinking (Zhou, 2018; Li, 2017). However, foreign studies are mostly critical of the Chinese government’s patriotic education through media (Furumori, 2001; Iizuka, 2012). One common problem in the above studies is the impossibility of verifying the role of the media in the formation of the patriotism of Chinese youth empirically.

The current study, therefore, focuses onChinese youth’s cognition of the status quo . Using empirical methods, this study explores how Chinese youth evaluate themselves, the state, and the government in the current social context and how external information affects their attitude formation.

2.3 Hypotheses

Liu (1998, pp. 15-17), a researcher with the Public Opinion Institute of Renmin University in China, noted that the biggest feature of China’s mass media is “integration with power.” Its main task is to serve as “the mouthpiece of the government” in order to promote “the CCP (Chinese Communist Party)’s program, guidelines, principles, national laws, and government policies.” In recent years, with the rapid development of Chinese society, the CCP Party and the Chinese government’s control of media reports has declined. In this changing context, most media have steadily advocated commercial development. Nevertheless, as Liu emphasized, all the activities of the Chinese media must continue to conform to the “four basic principles”: to adhere to the Socialist path, uphold the people’s democratic dictatorship, uphold the leadership of the CCP, and uphold Marxism–Leninism and Mao Zedong thought.

The features of Chinese media as described above are certainly reflected in the content and the method of reporting of Chinese media, but the extent of that reflection varies. For example, Chinese people can also receive a significant amount of information from foreign media in China, which are not under the control of the CCP. Therefore, research needs to treat these two forms of media differently. Additionally, the strength of the control exercised by the CCP over “media for party affairs” is different from the control it exercises over the commercial media. In addition, the Internet, which has been rapidly popularized in recent years, is difficult to regulate.. Some researchers opine that the Internet can break the rule about speech and have a positive effect on the formation of public opinion in China (Xia, 2011; Oikawa, 2013), but others claim that it is too easy to stir up emotional public opinion on the Internet (Zheng, 2012). Therefore, it is necessary to focus on the Internet as compared with traditional media.

Regarding the Chinese youth’s evaluation of the status quo, this study will examine two aspects: evaluation of the individual and evaluation of the state and government. Evaluation of the individual refers to self-awareness. The main purpose here is to examine the positioning of the Chinese youth with respect to their motherland, foreign countries, and the self; therefore, two specific indicators, namely, international posture and patriotism, have been selected. “International posture” examines the intensity of the desire to live overseas or to communicate internationally, and “patriotism” examines the degree of love or attachment that youth have for China. In addition, the evaluation of the country’s status quo will examine three issues of high public concern: social stability, economic development prospects, and freedom of speech. The evaluation of the government mainly focuses on how the government is functioning.

Therefore, based on the features of the Chinese media environment mentioned above, this study formulates the following hypotheses:

  • · Hypothesis 1: The more people use overseas media and the Internet, the stronger international posture is, whereas the more people use domestic traditional media, the opposite is true.
  • · Hypothesis 2: The more people use domestic traditional media, especially the media for party affairs, the stronger patriotism is, whereas the more people use overseas media and the Internet, the opposite is true.
  • · Hypothesis 3: The more people use domestic traditional media, especially the media for party affairs, the higher the evaluation of China and the Chinese government, whereas the more people use overseas media and the Internet, the opposite is true.

3. Method and Data

3.1 Details of the Survey

This study validated the hypotheses using data from a questionnaire survey conducted among college students in the Chinese mainland (excluding Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan) from May 20 to June 25, 2012. The random location sampling method was used to collect samples. More specifically, for the seven areas of China (Northeast China, North China, East China, Central China, South China, Southwest China and Northwest China), the first step was to randomly select one provincial administrative unit in each area, and the second step was to randomly select a municipal administrative unit from this provincial administrative unit. The third step involved randomly selecting two universities in the jurisdiction of the selected municipal administrative unit.3 Finally, a questionnaire was administered in the student dormitories of the universities The site of the survey, the sample size, and the sample recovery rate are presented in Table 1.

Table 1 Survey Sites and Sample Size
Survey Sites Sample Size
(Recovery rate)
Northeast China Prov. Liaoning
 (Shenyang Normal University)
North China Beijing City
 (Beijing Institute of Petro-chemical Technology)
East China Prov. Jiangsu
 (Nanjing University;
 (Nanjing University of Science and Technology)
Central China Prov. Jiangxi
 (Nanchang University;
 (Nanchang Polytechnic University)
South China Prov. Guangdong
 (South China University of Technology;
 (Guangdong Polytechnic Normal University)
Southwest China Chongqing City
 (Chongqing Normal University)
Northwest China Prov. Shanxi
 (Xi'an Jiao Tong University; Northwestern University)
Total 877

A total of 877 valid samples were collected in this survey. The sample composition is as follows:

  • Gender: Male 42.0%, Female 57.8%, No answer 0.2%
  • Age: Average age 21.0 years old (SD=1.62)
  • Education: College student 98.2%, Graduate student 1.7%, No answer 0.1%
  • Major: Political/ Sociology/ Law major 5.8%, Literature/ History/ Philosophy/ Foreign language major 15.0%, Science/ Engineering/ Medical major 23.5%, Economics/ Finance major 33.2%, Media/ Communication/ Informatics major 12.3%, Art/ Sports major 2.1%, No answer 8.0%
  • Nationality: Han nationality 90.4%, Other minorities 8.7%, No answer 0.9%

3.2 Survey Items and Evaluation Scale

To investigate the information behavior of Chinese youth as comprehensively as possible, this study referred to the survey items in Information Behavior 2015 in Japan (Hashimoto, 2016), “Annual Report on Development of China’s Radio, Film and Television 2017” (CCRC, 2017) and “The 41st Statistical Report on Internet Development in China” (CNNIC, 2018). The final survey items were selected according to the special media environment and social status in China.

Specifically, first, the study classified information sources into five categories: video media (television, movie), print media (newspaper, magazine, book), audio media (radio), Internet, and face-to-face communication. Second, the media were further divided according to the contents: TV (news, drama, program), book (novel/ essential/ manga, critic/ education, textbook), and Internet (online news, SNS/ BBS/ Blog, online video, email/ messenger etc.). Third, all the media were divided into Chinese domestic media and overseas media according to the operator. The fourth step was to distinguish TV news, newspapers, and magazines according to “the party media” and “non-party media” based on China’s national conditions.

The final survey items and evaluation scales used in this study are as follows:

3.2.1. Information behavior

Based on the above criteria, this study selected 21 final survey items (specific content is shown in Figure 1). We asked the question, “How often do you use the following media, or how often have you conducted communication activities in the last six months?” The information behavior of the respondents was evaluated on a scale of 1 to 8 (1= Never used, 2= Less than once in six months, 3= Several times in six months, 4= Several times in a month, 5= Several times in a week, 6= 30 minutes or less daily, 7= 30 minutes~2 hours daily, 8= More than 2 hours daily). However, in the following data analysis, the scale of 1 to 8 was condensed into a scale of 1 to 3 (1=Low (1-3), 2=Medium (4-5), 3=High (6-8)).

Figure 1. Information Behavior in the Past Six Months

3.2.2 Status quo evaluation

The status quo evaluation was examined from two aspects: evaluation of individuals and evaluation of countries and governments. The evaluation of individuals included two items, namely, international posture and patriotism, which corresponded to “Q1: I would like to study or work abroad if I have the chance” and “Q2: I am proud of being Chinese,” respectively. The evaluation of the status quo of the country was examined using “Q3: Satisfied with social fairness” and “Q4: China will maintain a high level of economic development.” The evaluation of the government was examined using “Q5: China has full freedom of speech” and “Q6: The Chinese government is functioning well.” The above six questions were all evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5 (1=Strongly disagree, 2=Disagree slightly 3=Neither agree nor disagree, 4=Agree a little, and 5=Strongly agree).

3.2.3 Control variables

Gender (1=Male, 0=Female), education (1=Graduate, 0=College), and area (1=Northeast China; the other six areas are input as dummy variables) were used as control variables.

4. Results

4.1 Actual State of Information Behavior

This study used 21 survey items and asked the respondents about their information behavior in the last six months immediately preceding the survey. These results are presented in Figure 1. The level of behavioral frequency revealed Internet use to be the highest, followed by face-to-face communication, video media, print media, and finally audio media. According to the China Youth Internet Behavior Survey Report published by CNNIC (2012, p. 11; 2014, p. 13), Chinese college students spent an average of 21.0 hours a week surfing the Internet in 2011, 22.8 hours in 2012, and 25.1 hours in 2013, which means that they spent more than 3.5 hours a day on average using the Internet, revealing the degree of Internet penetration among Chinese youth when this survey was conducted. The survey results reveal that the frequency of use of the Internet was significantly higher than that of other media, which reveals the structure of the daily information behavior of Chinese youth.

In the survey, “mail/messenger” was the most frequently used item, with nearly 60% of respondents using it daily. It was followed by “conversations with friends (including telephone),” with nearly 40% of the respondents using it daily; they communicated with friends more than with their families. This is because Chinese college students live in dormitories, because of which they spend more time with their classmates and friends. The third most frequently used item was “domestic Internet news,” with more than 35% using it daily. This was followed by “domestic video websites” (30.6% using them daily), “domestic SNS/BBS/blog” (28.4%), and “domestic TV news” (24.5%). The findings of CNNIC (2012, p. 12) in 2011 showed that the top ten most popular applications among Chinese college students on the Internet were instant messaging (95.1%), search engines (92.3%), online music (88.8%), Internet news (85.4%), email (82.7%), blogs (80.8%), online videos (78.9%), social networking sites (76.1%), “Sina Weibo”4 (73.9%), and online games (65.5%). Although the ranking order varied because of the different items, the two survey results generally showed consistency in propensity. Thus, the main purpose of Chinese college students in using the Internet was identified to be communication, followed by access to information, and entertainment.

Compared with the Internet, the usage frequency of traditional media is generally lower. College dormitories have few TVs, which certainly greatly affects the frequency of college students watching TV. However, the survey results do reflect the trend of Chinese youth media use. In 2012, when the survey was conducted, e-books were not as popular as they are today, so the form of newspapers, magazines, and books were deliberately not distinguished in the survey. Nevertheless, the results revealed that the reading rate of Chinese college students was actually at a lower level than the usage of Internet and TV. With the development of the Internet, young people have shifted their reading behavior from print media to electronic media. However, youth in general are certainly staying away from the print media in increasingly greater numbers.

Compared with other commercial media, the state-owned media did not show any advantage in the media use of college students, showing the declining influence of the media for party affairs. In addition to movies, domestic media was generally used more frequently than overseas media. However, this needs to be considered in the context of China’s special media environment, since watching overseas TV, listening to overseas broadcasts, using overseas websites, and purchasing overseas prints are strongly restricted in China. However, a certain number of overseas movies are introduced each year (following content review), and most young people choose to watch overseas movies and TV shows through video sites and other means. Although such behavior may involve copyright issues, Chinese young people are clearly highly interested in foreign culture.

As Table 2 reveals, the difference between genders is not obvious, but men focus more on the acquisition of information, while women focus on communication. Second, postgraduates use mail/messenger and domestic SNS/BBS/blogs more frequently than undergraduates, suggesting that postgraduates are more dependent on (and proficient with) the Internet. However, due to the small number of graduate students in this survey, the universality of this result needs further verification. Among the seven regions, the results of Central China are quite different from those of other areas. The frequency of Internet use in Central China is significantly lower than that of the other six areas, and traditional methods such as “face-to-face communication” and “television news” continue to play an important role in information behaviors. The survey site in Central China was Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province, which lags behind other provinces and cities in terms of economic development and public awareness.5 Therefore, the survey findings can be considered to reflect this situation to some extent.

Table 2 Top Five in High Frequency Information Behaviors by Demographics Attribute
1 2 3 4 5
Male (N=367) Mail/Messenger
Domestic Internet news
Conversation with friends (Tel incl.)
Domestic video website
Domestic SNS/BBS/Blog
Female (N=506) Mail/Messenger
Conversation with friends (Tel incl.)
Domestic Internet news
Domestic video website
Domestic SNS/BBS/Blog
College student
Conversation with friends (Tel incl.)
Domestic Internet news
Domestic video website
Domestic SNS/BBS/Blog
Graduate student
Domestic SNS/BBS/Blog
Conversation with friends (Tel incl.)
Domestic Internet news
Domestic video website
Northeast China
Conversation with friends (Tel incl.)
Domestic Internet news
Domestic video website
Domestic SNS/BBS/Blog
North China
Domestic Internet news
Conversation with friends (Tel incl.)
Domestic SNS/BBS/Blog
Domestic video website
East China
Domestic education books
Domestic Internet news
Conversation with friends (Tel incl.)
Domestic video website
Central China
Conversation with friends (Tel incl.)
Domestic TV News
Conversation with family (Tel incl.)
Domestic Internet news
South China
Conversation with friends (Tel incl.)
Domestic Internet news
Conversation with family (Tel incl.)
Domestic SNS/BBS/Blog
Southwest China
Mail/Messenger(69.0%) Domestic Internet news
Conversation with friends (Tel incl.)
Domestic video website
Domestic SNS/BBS/Blog
Northwest China
Mail/Messenger(57.9%) Domestic Internet news
Domestic video website
Conversation with friends (Tel incl.)
Domestic SNS/BBS/Blog

※The percentage number is calculated by using the number of people in each applicable category as a population number.

4.2 Relevance Between Information Behavior and Status Quo Evaluation

Regarding the evaluation of the status quo, this survey selected a total of six questions in four aspects. As shown in Table 3, this survey used a five-grade evaluation: if the average score exceeded the median value of 3.00, then the respondents could be considered to have a positive attitude toward this issue, and if the average score was lower than 3.00, the opposite was true. Among the six questions, only Q3 had an average score of 2.47 (SD=1.07), which was lower than 3.00, meaning that the respondents showed strong dissatisfaction with the fairness of Chinese society. This was followed by Q5 (3.01, SD=1.20); although the average score barely exceeded 3.00, it can be seen that people with negative attitudes (“strongly disagree” and “disagree slightly”) and people with neutral attitudes both constituted 30%. In other words, regarding the issue of freedom of speech in China, a certain negative evaluation certainly exists among Chinese youth. By contrast, regarding the issues of “government function” (3.41, SD=0.99), “international posture” (3.64, SD=1.09), and “economic development prospects” (3.66, SD=0.85), the proportion of positive evaluations is relatively high. Of the six questions, “patriotism” (4.19, SD = 0.87) scored the highest on average, with 81.9% of the respondents providing a positive answer.

Table 3 Survey Results of the Status Quo Evaluation (Frequency Distribution and Average Value)
(N=877) Strongly disagree Disagree slightly Neither agree nor disagree Agree a little Strongly agree Mean
International Posture:
 Q1: I would like to study or work abroad if I have the chance.
5.1% 11.3% 18.9% 43.7% 21.0% 3.64(1.09)
 Q2: I am proud of being Chinese.






Evaluation of China:
 Q3: Satisfied with social fairness.
 Q4: China will maintain a high level of economic development.
 Q5: China has full freedom of speech.






Evaluation of the Chinese government:
 Q6: The Chinese government is functioning well.







Many factors underlie the formation of the status quo assessment, and the psychological process of each respondent is not the same. This study focuses on how the daily information behavior of respondents played a role in the formation of their evaluations. The question that arises is whether information from different media had different effects on participants’ evaluation of the status quo. In order to verify the three hypotheses established in this study, the three attribute variables of gender, education, and area were used as control variables, and the daily information behavior was used in the analysis of a covariance model as an independent variable (In this part, the use frequency was reprocessed in a three-grade evaluation of “1=low,” “2=medium,” “3=high” as described above). The results of the hierarchical multiple regression analysis are presented in Table 4.

Table 4 Relevance between Media Usage Frequency and Status Quo Evaluation
International Posture Patriotism Evaluation of China Evaluation of the Chinese government
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Q6
β p β p β p β p β p β p
Step 1
Gender (M1, F0)






(Graduate1; College0)
.01 -.05 -.02 -.06 -.03 -.03
Area (Northeast China)
North China .14** -.08 -.05 -.01 -.18*** -.13**
East China .10 -.14** -.07 -.08 -.16** -.13**
Central China .10 -.15** -.08 -.07 -.22*** -.10*
South China .10* -.16** -.02 .03 -.19*** -.05
Southwest China .17** -.13* -.07 -.11* -.25*** -.20***
Northwest China -.03 -.09 -.12* -.05 -.16** -.12*
F1 3.58*** 2.30* 1.02 2.39* 4.41*** 2.33*
R21 .02 .01 .00 .01 .03 .01
Step 2
1.Domestic TV news






2.Domestic TV drama -.06 .04 .13* .12* .11* .13*
3.Domestic TV program .04 .00 -.01 .01 .07 .04
4.Overseas TV .05 .03 .01 .00 .04 .04
5.Domestic movie -.11* .18*** .10* .07 .10 .12*
6.Overseas movie .04 -.16** -.05 -.14** -.03 -.12*
7.Domestic Internet news -.06 -.08 -.03 -.04 .05 -.01
8.Domestic SNS/BBS/Blog .13** .03 .07 .08 -.02 -.02
9.Domestic video website -.02 .14** -.06 -.03 -.13** .01
10.Mail/Messenger .08 .13** .00 -.02 -.07 -.10*
11.Overseas website -.05 -.06 -.08 -.04 -.03 .00
12.Domestic radio .05 .02 .10* .07 -.02 .04
13.Overseas radio -.05 -.01 -.04 .02 .05 .01
14.Government newspaper .01 .02 .08 .11* .12* .15**
15.General newspaper .04 .01 .00 -.06 -.02 -.10
16.Domestic magazines .02 -.03 .03 .00 -.02 .01
17.Domestic novels/essays/cartoons .06 .01 -.03 -.04 .04 -.05
18.Domestic education books -.04 .03 -.12* -.02 -.01 -.00
19.Overseas publications -.03 -.06 -.02 .01 -.02 -.02
20.Conversation with family (Tel incl.) -.03 .01 -.01 -.02 .02 -.02
21.Conversation with friends (Tel incl.) .06 .04 .02 .07 -.12** -.02
F2 2.20*** 3.19*** 1.84** 2.69*** 4.18*** 3.47***
R22 .04 .07 .03 .06 .10 .08
ΔR2(1-2) .04* .08*** .05** .07*** .09*** .09***

Overall, the results show the following two trends. First, compared with television, radio, print, and interpersonal communication, the relevance between movies and Internet and the evaluation of status quo is relatively closer. Second, besides overseas movies, the role played by overseas media was not obvious overall.

Specifically, the first is concerned with international posture, and the impact of Internet use on this item was positive overall. The positive impact from “domestic SNS/BBS/blogs (.13, p<.01)” was the strongest, followed by “mail/messenger (.08, p<.10),” which also had a certain degree of positive relevance. Other Internet items such as “domestic Internet news (-.06, n.s.)” showed a negative tendency, but it was not a statistically significant result. By contrast, only one item in the traditional media showed statistically significant results: the negative impact from “domestic movies (-.11, p<.05).” Thus, the higher the frequency of watching domestic movies, the lower the interest shown by people who go abroad to study.

Regarding the relevance of the use of overseas media for “international posture,” no statistically significant results were obtained in this survey, and inconsistencies were found in the directionality of the results. Therefore, based on the above results, it can be said that Hypothesis 1 of this study was largely supported.

Secondly, regarding “patriotism,” the intentional results were mainly concentrated in the film and the Internet, but there were many changes in the direction. As in the case of movies, “domestic movies (.18, p<.001)” and “overseas movies (-.16, p<.01)” showed a diametrically opposite tendency, which is a thought-provoking result. The same situation could also be observed in several items on the Internet. For example, the positive impact of “domestic video websites (.14, p<.01)” and “mail/messenger (.13, p<.01)” is undeniable. In contrast, although the impact intensity is slightly weaker, the negative effect of “domestic Internet news (-.08, p<.10)” is obvious.

However, intentional influence was not verified for other traditional media such as television, radio, print, and overseas media, and the role of the media for party affairs has not seen obvious advantages compared with other media. Summarizing, in the domestic traditional media, the positive influence of “domestic movies” has been confirmed, and the negative impact of “overseas movies” in overseas media has also been confirmed, but there are inconsistencies in the direction between the various projects on the Internet. Therefore, Hypothesis 2 of this research is partially supported.

The survey results of the three items of “evaluation of China” and one item of “evaluation of the government” showed basic consistency in overall trends. The positive influence from traditional media, particularly “domestic TV drama (The β coefficients of the four items Q3~Q6 are.13, p<.05; .12, p<.05; .11, p<.05; .13, p<.05),” “domestic movie (.10, p<.05; .07, n.s.; .10, p<.10; .12, p<.05),” and “government newspaper (.08, n.s.; .11, p<.05; .12, p<.05; .15, p<.01)” was extremely significant.

The impact of the Internet was mainly negative. For example, there was a negative correlation between “domestic video websites” and “freedom of speech (-.13, p<.01),” and also between “mail/messenger” and “freedom of speech (-.07, p<.10)” and “government function (-.10, p<.05).” Simultaneously, however, it also can be seen that there is a relatively weak positive correlation between “domestic SNS/BBS/blogs” and “China’s economic development prospects (.08, p<.10).”

In overseas media, it was confirmed that the statistically significant relevance between “overseas movies” and “China’s economic development prospects (-.14, p<.01),” and the relevance between “overseas websites” and “social fairness (-.08, p<.10)” both have negative effects. In the print media, a negative correlation was found between “general newspapers” and “government function (-.10, p<.10)” and between “domestic education books” and “social fairness (-.12, p<.05),” which is in stark contrast to the “government newspaper.” Therefore, Hypothesis 3 of this study was largely supported.

5. Conclusions and Discussion

The study results revealed that the proportion of respondents who used print media per day was less than 10%. Although the frequency of video media use is slightly higher than that of live media, some of the respondents engage in the above behavior through the Internet. The survey results do not confirm any advantage or irreplaceability of traditional media. Therefore, contemporary Chinese youth can be called an “Internet generation.” Although it is impossible to assert the demise of traditional media, as mobile Internet access becomes more popular,6 it can be speculated that young people will shift more information activities such as reading, listening to audio, and interpersonal communications that rely on traditional media, to the Internet and mobile devices.

Regarding the relevance between daily information behavior and status quo evaluation, this study has essentially verified the three hypotheses. The results revealed a close positive relevance between traditional media use and the weakening of “international posture,” and between the enhancement of “patriotism” and the promotion of “evaluation of China and Chinese government.”

This can be understood in conjunction with the above-mentioned special media environment in China, because China’s “newspapers, radio and television media are completely under the control of the CCP and the government, and carry out propaganda activities under the management and guidance of the party” (Liu, 1998, p. 15). Despite societal development in recent years, the public’s voice for freedom of speech has gradually increased, and most media have gradually embarked on the road of commercial operation under the influence of the market economy. However, all the activities of the Chinese media are still under the supervision of the Communist Party of China. This feature is particularly prominent in traditional media, especially the media for party affairs such as CCTV and government newspapers. These media are required to follow the main guidelines of “positive reporting” when conducting reporting activities. The social effects of the report need to be considered when reporting. Therefore, while “the focus of the report tends to focus on the positive or bright side of society,” the keynote includes “advocating and encouraging,” “advocating a certain phenomenon or concept,” “to maintain a certain level of social morality and social order,” emphasizing “balance, harmony, and stability” (Zhang, 1999, pp. 48-49). In this survey, the relevance between “domestic movies” and the status quo evaluation items is the most prominent of all: film has clearly played a more important role in the ideological propaganda of the party and the state than has news media.

The Internet has relatively diverse impacts on the formation of the status quo evaluation. In addition to the positive impact on “international posture” and the negative impact on “evaluation of China and the Chinese government,” the Internet has both positive and negative impacts on “patriotism.” Many discussions have been conducted about whether Internet use will provoke a biased national sentiment. The survey results also reveal a positive correlation between the use of “domestic video websites,” “mail/messenger,” and “national pride.” However, there is still insufficient evidence to evaluate the Internet negatively. It is certainly undeniable that “national pride” has developed into a partial national sentiment, so it is necessary to maintain a certain vigilance to continue to observe this aspect. More importantly, the survey results clearly reveal that the role of the Internet in many regards reflects many of the basic features of a network, which is functionally different from the above-mentioned domestic traditional media. In particular, Internet use has enabled the youth to look at the status quo and government work in the country with a more critical attitude, and to cultivate their interest in the outside world and their ambition to go abroad. The Internet has indeed played a positive role in broadening the horizons and forming a multifaceted way of thinking among Chinese youth.

This study also specifically examines the use of overseas media and its impact. The results revealed a strong negative correlation between “overseas movies” and “patriotism” and “evaluation of China and the Chinese government,” in clear contrast with “domestic movies.” As mentioned above, China’s “domestic movies” have some special features in its function, but it is still possible to speculate on the differences in content between the two, which indirectly reflects the ideological conflicts between China and overseas. However, the influence of other overseas media did not show a clear tendency, which is largely due to the relatively low usage rate of overseas media.

Compared with foreign countries, the use of the Internet and overseas media in China is subject to a certain degree of restriction. However, the survey results indicate that with the further popularization of the Internet and the changes in China’s domestic media environment, the changes brought by the Internet to the future Chinese society should receive more attention with a positive attitude.


1 This is according to the data of the “China Statistical Yearbook 2017” (National Bureau of Statistics of China, 2017). The results were calculated by the author.

2 CSM Media Research is a cooperative enterprise primarily established by CTR Market Research and Kantar Media dedicated to TV and radio audience measurement research. CSM Media Research offers reliable and uninterrupted rating information for Hong Kong SAR and China. For details, please refer to, retrieved on 2018/9/25.

3 In principle, the survey was conducted in the first university. However, if the number of samples was too small, the survey was conducted in the same way in the second university until the sample size reached the target.

4 “Sina Weibo” ( is a Chinese microblogging website launched by Sina Corporation (China) on August 14, 2009.

5 According to the results of the Gross Regional Product and Indices released by the National Bureau of Statistics of China (2013), the regional GDP of Jiangxi Province is only slightly higher than that of Chongqing Municipality in the seven implementation sites of this survey. However, it is noteworthy that Chongqing is a municipality directly under the central government, which is much smaller in scale than Jiangxi Province. Additionally, Jiangxi Province is the birthplace of the CCP. Now it has become the red base for the CCP to carry out patriotic education. Therefore, the public consciousness there is more conservative than other coastal cities (Jiang, 2014, p. 216).

6 According to the survey results of CNNIC (2013, p. 13; 2018. p. 22), as of December 2012, China’s mobile Internet users accounted for 420 million, and users who used mobile phones to access the Internet accounted for 74.5% of the total Internet users. By December 2017, the number reached 753 million, accounting for 97.5% of the total number of Internet users.

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