Culture Learning

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(Ward et al.)

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Culture Learning

  1. 1. Culture LearningBehavioral Aspects of Culture Contact
  2. 2. Culture learning is a process whereby sojourners acquire culturally relevantsocial knowledge and skills in order tosurvive and thrive in their new society.• Elements that regulate interpersonal behavior that vary between cultural and ethnic groups-non-verbal communication such as proxemics, touch and gestures
  3. 3. These elements are ‘hidden’ in that people are not fully aware of them• Failed social interactions• Misperceptions• Negative stereotypes• Intergroup friction• More likely to happen again when there is more cultural distance separating the participants
  4. 4. Social Interaction• The social behavior of persons interacting with each other constitutes a mutually organized, skilled performance.• Elements that regulate social encounters include expressing attitudes, feelings and emotions, adopting the appropriate proxemic posture; understanding the gaze patterns of others; carrying out ritual routines such as greetings/leave-taking, self- disclosure, making/refusing requests; asserting oneself.
  5. 5. Relational Communication• Implicit messages that vary across cultures and define the tenor of the relationship by indirectly conveying feelings of liking, friendliness, dominance and trust.• Evidence suggests that many travelers do not easily learn the conventions of another society.• Recent research falls under the heading of communication style or competence, which includes a specific problem of intercultural communication apprehension or anxiety aroused by interacting with culturally dissimilar people.
  6. 6. The Social Inadequate Individual• The social inadequate individual may not have mastered the conventions of their society, ether because they are unaware of the rules of social behavior that regulate interpersonal conduct in their culture or, if aware of the rules, are unable or unwilling to abide by them.• Performance may also be affected by anxiety about how performance it is being evaluated
  7. 7. Socially Unskilled Persons• Behave like strangers in their own land, a similar position to socially inadequate indigenous individuals• Many individuals in this predicament (students, business travelers, diplomats) tend to be highly skilled in the customs of their own society and find their sudden inadequacy in the new culture frustrating• Deficit formula falls within general literature on communication theory
  8. 8. Cross-Cultural differences in Communication• Differences in ways people send and receive information, commands, wishes, and affect• High context vs. Low context cultures-low context: direct; rely on verbal communication-high context: indirect, ambiguous; convey limited information in coded messages, more influenced by situational cues
  9. 9. Differences in Cultural Communication (cont.)• Variability in self-disclosure, face negotiation and proxemics• Oftentimes variables are related to broader cultural values such the I-C dimension• More difficulty with differing ‘codes’ (may be unaware, particularly when share the same linguistic form) “Would you like to…?” US/Aus
  10. 10. Etiquette• Direct/indirect• How requests are made or denied- Chinese place greater emphasis on face-saving and polite usage than Western societies- US Peace Corps volunteers in Philippines were too direct and regarded as brutal and tactless• Turn distribution (Japanese take shorter turns, distributed evenly/word ‘no’ rarely used)• Voice volume (Arabs loudest/Americans more than English)• Linguistic forms such as ‘Thank you’
  11. 11. Resolving Conflict• Expatriate managers may reprimand too directly, which can lead to absenteeism, poor morale and higher turnover (Mexican assembly line workers—being publicly criticized is regarded as shameful and insulting in Mexican culture)• American work settings require managers to provide frank feedback on performance• Affected by power-distance (status inequality) and the I-C dimension
  12. 12. Resolving Conflict (cont.)• Managers in low power distance and individualist cultures rely heavily on their own training and experience and involve subordinates and co-workers.• In high power and collectivist countries formal rules and procedures are given precedence (unwillingness for first officers to challenge airline captains contributed to accidents)
  13. 13. Resolving Conflict (cont.)• Negotiating styles: consider the interest of the other party or more inclined to use strategies to maximize own interests at the expense of the other party (Brazilian/U.S.; Mexicans prefer strategies of accommodation and collaboration, avoid conflict and competition)
  14. 14. Non-Verbal Communication• Important in communicating attitudes and expressing emotions, supporting speech, provide feedback and synchronize turn-taking - Meaning of some signals universal but many vary across cultures• Elements studied include face, eyes, spatial behavior, bodily contact and gestures (Japanese discourage negative facial expressions/Filipinos may smile when angry)
  15. 15. Mutual Gaze• Levels vary across cultures with Arabs and Latin Americans displaying a high frequency of mutual gaze, Europeans comparatively lower• Low gaze participant may be seen as impolite• High gaze participant may be seen as disrespectful, threatening or insulting• Spatial behavior also varies with some groups standing much closer to each other than others
  16. 16. Bodily Contact• Contact cultures include Arab, Latin American, and Southern European groups• In non-contact cultures touching is allowed under very restricted conditions (within the family, specialized roles or brief handshakes)• Low-touch culture seen as aloof, cold and unfriendly to high-contact cultures• Italians most tactile Europeans• Arabs high-contact, but among same-sex• East Asian low-contact cultures• Psychological closeness/immediacy
  17. 17. Gestures• Vary widely across cultures• Thumbs up in Greece is taken as an insult• In Europe, Italians most intense users of expressive hand movements in conversation- French, Spanish, Portuguese, East European Jews—very expressive- Nordic people make little use of gesticulation- British, Germans, Russians, Dutch—moderate gestures• Congruent non-verbal cues higher predictor of attraction than ethnicity
  18. 18. Rules and Conventions• American/Brazilian approach to lateness/success• Differences in attitudes towards pace of life (clocks most accurate in Japan, least in Indonesia, Japanese fastest strollers/Indonesians slowest)• Social rules operate beneath the level of consciousness, become aware of rule only after it’s been broken
  19. 19. Forms of Address• Titles (always used in Germany and Italy in introductions to convey status/occupation)• First names reserved for friends and family members (British professor offended by Australian students who used his first name)• Tied to variations in power-distance across cultures (high power distance cultures more likely to recognize status differences)• Rules for exchanging business cards, addressing by surname/given name combinations
  20. 20. Social Relations in Multicultural Societies• Sizable groups of permanent settlers within a nation’s boarders (minority groups) -Despite policies based on integration, in practice minority groups are expected to assimilate to the dominant ethos, which can lead to a weakening or total abandoning of ties with culture of origin/resistance can lead to marginalization- Most belong to two distinct groups (‘code switching’ linguistic styles such as Arabic speakers)
  21. 21. Social Situations QuestionnaireThe Culture Learning approach suggests skills deficits be included in the study of intercultural contact- The results of a study of international students in the U.K. (Furnham and Bochner, 1982) clearly indicated that social difficulty was a function of cultural distance.

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