Information Accessibility, User Sophistication, and Source Credibility: The Impact of the Internet on Value Orientations in Mainland China

Authors

  • Jonathan J. H. Zhu,

    Corresponding author
    1. Professor in the Department of English and Communication at City University of Hong Kong. He was formerly Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences at University of Connecticut. His work has appeared in Journal of Communication, Human Communication Research, Public Opinion Quarterly, International Journal of Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Communication, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Journalism Monographs, and elsewhere.
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  • Zhou He

    Corresponding author
    1. Associate Professor in the Department of English and Communication at City University of Hong Kong. He was formerly Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at San Jose State University. His work has appeared in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, International Journal of Public Opinion, Journalism Monographs, Intercultural Communication Studies, Media, Culture and Society, and Gazette.
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Address: Department of English and Communication, City University of Hong Kong, 83 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Phone: (852)2788-7186 Fax: (852)2788-8894.

Address: Department of English and Communication, City University of Hong Kong, 83 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Phone: (852)2788-7186 Fax: (852)2788-8894.

Abstract

The Internet has penetrated China at a rapid rate. However, there exist a wide range of constraining forces, such as governmental control, inadequate infrastructure, economic affordability, cultural perceptions, and language barriers. This paper tests the impact of access to the Internet and other sources of information, perceived credibility of the Internet and conventional media, and cognitive sophistication of Chinese audiences on the choice of rival value orientations such as Communism, Materialism, and Post-materialism. The data come from a survey of 2,600 adults in Beijing and Guangzhou in November-December 2000. Multinomial logistic regression analyses show that perceived credibility of the Internet, cognitive sophistication, and access to Hong Kong-based television have a significant impact on the preference for particular value orientations. Analysis of the sub-sample of Internet users further reveals the importance of participation in online chatting. The findings bear important implications for the role of the Internet in the political development of transitional societies.

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