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Past Theses

Year 2019

Student: Adrian Abendroth

Title: Technology Addiction Scales in the Areas of Internet, Smartphone, Video Games and Social Network Sites – A Systematic Literature Review

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanna Krasnova


As digital media infiltrate an increasingly greater proportion of our lives, concern about the possibility of various forms of technology addictions has emerged. For technology addiction, researchers have developed a variety of self-reported scales in areas such as Internet, smartphones, videogames, social network sites (SNS) or television. However, no uniform criteria or definition exists for technology addiction. Utilized dimensions of technology addiction, to measure specific outcomes, lack a conceptual standard. Therefore, linkages between technology areas dimensions have not been examined in a broader way by the research community, in order to develop a uniform technology addiction scale.

In this regard, firstly, a theoretical model was developed in order to extract common technology dimensions. Secondly, a systematic literature review in the areas of Internet, smartphone, video games and SNS was conducted in order to extract the dimensions used. To identify relevant studies, nine databases (GoogleScholar, ScienceDirect, PubMed, EmeraldInsight, Wiley, SpringerLink, ACM, iEEE and JSTOR) were searched, producing 4698 results, and 50 studies met the inclusion criteria. Thirdly, the developed theoretical model was utilized in order to determine the dimension in each of the identified scales.

Based on analysis of the dimensional distributions, the findings suggest that there are common dimensions across areas of technology such as “compulsive use” and “negative outcomes” but also differences in dimensions across areas such as “social comfort” and “mood regulation”, which are more used in the area of SNS. Moreover, new dimensions such as “cognitive absorption” or “utility and function loss” for technology addiction were extracted, which should be considered as these have not yet been researched in a broader way. In addition, no gold standard for the conceptual criteria or definition for technology addiction has been developed yet.

Year 2018

Student: Jiawei Wen

Title: Investigation of the relationship between social networking sites use and depression in China 

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanna Krasnova, M.Sc. Olga Abramova


Depression is an important social problem that attracts much attention. With the popularization of social networking sites (SNS) in daily life, many studies have linked depression to the use of SNSs. This study explores the relationship between SNS use and depression among Chinese college students from three aspects: motivations, behaviors, and models. Based on previous research, this study examines the influence of various factors – such as positive self-presentation, social support, upward social comparison, envy, rumination, etc. – on these three aspects through the construction of mediating models with moderating effects. 

In an attempt to investigate this issue from the perspective of conditions in China, 704 Chinese college students were invited to participate in a survey. At the same time, Wechat Moment was selected as the representative SNS in China. The results show: 1) Even though college students positively presented themselves in SNS, they still tended to experience depression in SNS. Social support and positive emotions as mediating factors are unable to change this fact. 2) Upward social comparison as a common SNS behavior was positively correlated with depression. At the same time, the impact of upward social comparison on depression can be identified through the mediating effect of envy and the moderating effect of rumination. 3) Active use of SNS can effectively reduce the experience of depression, and social support can act as a partial mediator in the relationship between them. 4) Passive use of SNS cannot directly predict whether depression is experienced, but through the mediator Envy, the connection between passive use and depression can be established. 

All these results indicate that the relationship between SNS use and depression can be affected by many factors. Through different influence pathways, these factors can directly or indirectly affect an individual’s experience of depression on social networking sites. 

Student: Francisca Di Piazza

Title: Exploring the Role of Visual Cues on Sharing Platforms: Evidence from the Accommodation-sharing Context

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanna Krasnova, M.Sc. Olga Abramova


The ability to initiate trust is an important prerequisite for sharing economy platforms. Consequently, platform providers have implemented a number of visual cues to signal trust and to facilitate transactions between users and sellers. However, there is a lack of objective perspective into the visual cues that users regard to be important trust indicators and influencers of their booking decisions. This study explores the role of various visual cues in signaling trust, presented on the Airbnb platform by studying the visual attention behaviour of experienced and inexperienced users. Results from an eye tracking experiment and a survey from 26 participants provide insights to the trust signaling role of six visual cues of interest for this study: accommodation photo, host photo, average rate score and number of reviews, ID verification and membership duration. We find that there is a significant difference in visual attention behaviour between experienced and inexperienced users. Experienced users associate more trust through the visual cues average rate score and membership duration whereas the inexperienced users mainly the visual cues number of reviews, accommodation and host photo and ID verification. Moreover, altogether users perceive the visual cues accommodation photo, average rate score and number of reviews to be the most important trust indicators and influencers of their booking decisions. Implications for sharing economy platform providers and future recommendations are discussed. 

Student: Lisa Jessen

Title: Special Media Marketing on Instagram: Exploration of Strategic Perspectives

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanna Krasnova, M.Sc. Jana Gundlach


With 800 million users worldwide Instagram is one of the world’s leading social media platforms. The reason for the increasing relevance of Instagram is its mobile, local, social and visual character, which reflects how individuals are currently using social media and will continue to do so in the future. Instagram's combination of emotional visual content, story-telling and interaction with the community also makes it a platform that allows brands to differentiate themselves from others - to become unique in what are often very saturated markets. While Instagram is a new application and previous research focuses mainly on long established social media platforms such as Facebook, this thesis aims to explore the various strategic perspectives of successful social media marketing on Instagram by developing a theoretical frame work and presenting the practical strategies of three very different organisations in a multiple-case study design. The framework and the case studies prove that the five identified social media dimensions - content marketing, engagement marketing, influencer marketing, hashtags and Instagram advertising - are applied in practice but are adapted very individual on each organisation, its goals and its target group.

Student: Farina Hoffmeier (master’s thesis 27.02.2018)

Title: The Social Inclusion of Refugees: An Investigation of the Technology Use and its Relation to Social Inclusion 

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanna Krasnova, M.Sc. Safa’a AbuJarour


More than one million refugees entered Europe in 2015. The challenge to socially include these refugees and their reliance on smartphones had become widely discussed topics in political as well as social spheres. But in the scientific literature, refugees' ICT usage and the relation to their social inclusion has not yet been quantitatively investigated. Only some studies conducted interviews and revealed some first evidence of the positive relationship. Hence, the present paper aims to investigate the Internet usage behavior of Syrian refugees in Germany and the relationship to their social inclusion in the sense of wellbeing and agency. Therefore, an online survey was conducted with 140 participants. The findings partly support the existing results from qualitative studies. Refugees' Internet browsing is in a very weak positive relationship with their agency in Language (r=0.179, p≤0.05) and Housing (r=0.197, p≤0.05). Refugees' Internet communication with Arabs in Germany is in a positive very weak correlation with their wellbeing (r=0.174, p≤0.05). Refugees' Internet communication with Germans is in a positive weak correlation with their wellbeing (r=0.225, p≤0.01) as well as their agency in Language (r=0.394, p≤0.01), Culture (r=0.227, p≤0.01) and Social Network (r=0.347, p≤0.01) and in a positive very weak correlation with their agency in Housing (r=0.177, p≤0.05). All correlations might be weak due to the fact that most refugees in the sample were already well integrated. Further, the study showed limitations in the study design. Nevertheless, the insights of the present study can be of great relevance for many stakeholders, such as policy-makers and social organizations seeking to support refugees, and their access to the Internet to promote the social inclusion of all refugees in Germany. 

Student: Lena Jung (master’s thesis)

Title: Understanding the Uncertainty in the Sharing Economy: An Empirical Approach

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanna Krasnova, M.Sc. Olga Abramova

Year 2017

Student: Maria Hermann (master’s thesis 4.12.2017)

Title: Social Networking Site Use and Subjective Well-being of SNS Users: Empirical Approach

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanna Krasnova, M.Sc. Olga Abramova 


Many studies have found that social networking site use has an impact on users’ subjective well-being. However, the results show an inconsistent picture. While most of the studies concentrate on only one particular outcome, the current study will conduct a systematic literature review and reveal the different impacts that SNS use has on users’ subjective well-being. Therefore, 110 studies that met the inclusion criteria were systematically reviewed. Results show that active SNS use leads mostly to positive outcomes like increased satisfaction with life and reduced loneliness. Passive use, on the contrary, leads predominantly to negative impacts on SWB such as an increased depression and increased anxiety. Moreover, a second qualitative study was conducted to underline these results. The study examined the perception gap between the sender and recipient. Especially when the relationship of the users is not very close, this gap was found to be larger. Conclusively, the way SNS is used has a big influence on which impacts it has on SWB as well as the tie between users. Limitations and implications for further research are provided.  

Student: Sirui Wang (master’s thesis 25.11.2017)

Title: On Uncertainty Risks and Countermeasures Under “Sharing Economy”: A Case Study of DDCX

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanna Krasnova, M.Sc. Olga Abramova


Sharing Economy is a new economic model and Didi Chuxing is a well-known sharing economy platform in China. By analyzing Didi, we try to pursue solutions and outlets for problems (uncertainty risks) occurring in Didid Chuxing and even in sharing economy with the purpose of promoting better development for related enterprises.

Student: Lisa Bruns (master’s thesis 20.10.2017)

Title: Investigating the Link between Social Networking Site Use and Subjective Wellbeing

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanna Krasnova, M.Sc. Olga Abramova


Throughout recent years many researchers investigated the link between social networking site (SNS) usage and subjective wellbeing. Still, results are equivocal: Some studies suggest that SNS usage has a negative effect on users by increasing feelings of loneliness or depression, whereas other studies find a positive relationship between SNS and wellbeing e.g. by increasing happiness. This study provides a comprehensive literature review covering articles from 2004 until 2017 (April). Even though a lot of research in this field has been done, it remains unclear what different fillings a post evokes within the user sharing the post (sender) and the user consuming the post (recipient). Therefore, this study uses a dyadic approach to investigate the feelings of sender and recipient of one and the same post. Results indicate that recipients have rather negative feelings about a post when it comes from weak ties while posts from strong ties evoke more positive feelings. Having found an empathy gap between sender and recipient week ties, the results of this study contribute to understand why passive or active SNS usage can have such different impacts on users’ SWB. 

Student: Igor Chernyshev (master’s thesis 3.09.2017)

Title: Understanding of User Exposure to Third-Party Tracking Cookies through Online Search

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanna Krasnova, Dr. Tatiana Ermakova


With the implementation of advanced telecommunication technologies, data, including private data, became easy to collect, transfer and analyze by multiple parties, making information privacy a matter of concern among Internet users. Companies started to gather user data through facilitated data collection mechanisms, often without user consent to do so. An example for this is a phenomenon called online tracking. While online tracking supports free content and the development of web services, it comes at a privacy cost for users who are getting tracked across websites. Being exposed to tracking endangers privacy through the monitoring of users’ activity. Empirical studies pointed out a high tracking potential of commercial websites, implicating that user behavior could be influencing the scale of exposure to tracking through visiting certain websites. Currently, the impact of user browsing behavior on exposure to tracking remains a weakly researched area of knowledge. Considering the background, this work seeks to clarify to which extent the user exposure to tracking depends on browsing behavior. A better practical vision of online tracking would allow to understand its functionality in a socio-economic environment and to gain additional knowledge about its advantages and disadvantages. 

Student: Yanyue Zhang 

Title: Investigations of the Effects of Envy on Social Networking Sites among Chinese Users: A Cultural Perspective

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanna Krasnova

Year 2016

Student: Christin Neumann (master’s thesis 28.11.2016)

Title: Understanding the Impact of Consumer Reviews in the Healthcare Context:  An Empirical Approach

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanna Krasnova, Dr. Tatiana Ermakova


Internet-based physician-rating websites provide for a new form of public reporting. The available reviews are based on voluntary feedback of patients for their physicians and are submitted anonymously in order to offer help to other consumers. Prior content analysis of such websites confirms that patients are often concerned with friendliness and competence when it comes to reviewing medical doctors. Following the stereotype content model, these two dimensions are rated by consumers when assessing physicians. An experimental study was conducted to investigate the impact of perceived warmth and competence of patients’ choice of doctors. Results suggest that the perception of both dimensions significantly influence this decision process but that perceived trust and image of doctors act as mediators. Physicians should therefore focus more on the stereotypical quality perceptions of their patients.

Student: Adolfo M. Grau (master’s thesis 16.11.2016)

Title: Predicting Conversions with Clickstream Data

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanna Krasnova, Dr. Tatiana Ermakova


This thesis is concerned with applying logistic regression for predicting conversions using clickstream data. The data set was provided by a financial technology company based in Berlin. The performance of the public website is a main concern for the company, as it is currently the only channel for acquiring customers. A better understanding of the conversion process and the causal relationship between general clickstream data and conversions are essential for improving the website and marketing efforts. The topic is highly relevant due to the need for better ways to analyze the large amounts of website data, as well as the techniques used for predicting actions by website visitors. The following variables were selected using findings from the literature and information from the company’s managers: frequency of visit, marketing channel, session duration, number of webpages visited, time of visit ad device type. Hypothesis were formulated based on the findings from the literature and tested, leading to the logistic regression model for predicting conversions. The data shows that customers coming from paid marketing channels and using a computer are more likely to convert than the other alternatives tracked. The length of a session proved to be an important factor when attempting to predict a conversion, where longer sessions tend to be associated with small increases in the log likelihood of conversion.

Student: Kathrin Y. Mao (master’s thesis 12.09.2016)

Title: User Perceptions on Facebook: Developing a Browser Plugin

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanna Krasnova, Dr. Tatiana Ermakova


Recent studies show that Facebook has an effect on the emotions and well-being of its users. The exposure to all the posts on Facebook can evoke the emotion envy with its users. To avoid theoretically surveys about the Facebook posts, it would be more convenient to conduct surveys directly on Facebook having the possibility to show particular Facebook posts to survey participants.

The goal of this master’s thesis is to develop a Facebook survey application and a Facebook browser plugin to retrieve information in order to conduct a survey about the user perception considering envy experiences within Facebook. The Facebook browser plugin extracts all posts from friends of a survey participant on the Facebook newsfeed. The survey itself depicting five randomly selected friend posts is displayed by the survey application within Facebook. 

In conclusion, this thesis serves as a technical documentation and a user guide for future developers to improve and maintain the Facebook survey application and the Facebook browser extension. It will give help to understand the concept behind these implementations of these applications as well as to get a better overview of the source code for future improvement and development. 

Year 2015

Student: Andreas Hartl (master’s thesis)

Title: Understanding Parental Use of Smartphones: An Observational Approach

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanna Krasnova