Cultural Dimensions in Twitter: Time, Individualism and Power

Is the culture of a country associated with the way people use Twitter? The answer is a definite “Yes!” We analyzed more than 2.34 million geo-located user profiles in 30 countries plus their tweets for 10 weeks, and we found that:

Maps showing (a) Levine‘s Pace of Life ranking (left), (b) Hofstede’s Individualism (center) and (c) Power Distance (right) . Darker colors reflect lower Pace of Life, higher Individualism score and higher Power Distance. Gray areas mark countries that have not been included.
  • The higher a country’s Pace of Life, the more predictable its residents: one can reliably predict when they would post a tweet!
  • In collectivist countries, users interact more with each other (rather than tweet) than those in individualistic countries.
  • In countries in which people tend to be comfortable with unequal distribution of power, users tend to follow, recommend, and accept recommendations preferentially from popular users. In more equal countries, popularity does not play a role at all!

These findings match previous real-world ones, and that speaks to their external validity. Why does all this matter? Because pace of life, individualism and power distance are all strongly associated with socio-economic aspects (with, e.g., GPD, income inequality).  Thus, this work has established a convincing transitive link between Twitter behavioral features and a country’s socio-economic conditions.

Want to learn more? Check out our full paper, Cultural Dimensions in Twitter: Time, Individualism and Power.

Ruth Garcia-Gavilanes, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Daniele Quercia, Yahoo! Labs              
Alejandro Jaimes, Yahoo! Labs

About the author


I am a PhD student of the Web Research Group at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona and doing my daily research at Yahoo! labs in the same city. I am interested in dultural studies and Data Mining.

View all posts


  • It’s remarkable how globally representative your sample is for your study, and how you were all able to isolate different characteristics to different cultures. It seems that studies like yours are particularly important to further our ability to make claims and better understand Twitter and their social media uses, and how culture/socioeconomic aspects influences Twitter use behaviors. Very interesting!