Individualism vs. Collectivism Feature Individualistic Collectivistic Definition Separate from others. Connected to others. Structure of self Stable. Flexible. Key features Internal, private. External, public. Tasks Be unique. Express yourself. Promote own goals. Be direct (say what’s on mind) Belong; fit in. Stay in your place. Promote others goals. Be indirect (read others' minds) Basis of self-esteem Ability to express self. Validate internal attributes Ability to adjust and restrain. Maintain social harmony
Some Unique Gestures Country Gesture Action Meaning Origin Indonesia Armpit tickle Forefinger tickles gesturer’s own armpit Poor joke The joke is so bad I’d have to tickle myself to laugh Greece Palm thrust (known as “moutza” gesture) Palm is thrust toward other as if pushing something into person’s face Go to hell Symbolizes ancient practice of pushing filth into face of chained-up criminals Holland Eyes blind Fingertips are held over closed eyes I swear it’s true Swearing an oath: “May I be struck blind if I’m not telling the truth” Saudi Arabia Ear circle Forefinger makes a circling motion around the ear Be good or else Stylized threat by parent toward a misbehaving child. Threatens to pull ear as punishment Italy Eyes flap The flat hand is flapped up and down in front of the eyes You are crazy Implies that person has distorted vision; can’t see straight
Language Differences: The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
High context: The sender does not encode large amounts of information. Communication is implicit. The most crucial information is internalized in the receiver or is in the context. Ex: Best Friends, twins
Low Context: Information is explicit. The receiver does not have to read into anything in order to understand the intended message. Ex: lawyers
Person Centered: Frequently use first person pronouns, downplay the differences between people, informal.
Role Centered: Formal, the status of the speakers is taken into account, use honorifics, use formal titles.
Relationship Between Dimensions of Culture and Verbal Style Cultural Dimension Low Context High Context Individualistic Direct style Instrumental style Collectivistic I ndirect style Affective style Low uncertainty avoidance Exacting style Moderate uncertainty avoidance Elaborate style High uncertainty avoidance Succinct style Low power distance Person-centered style High power distance Role-centered style
Implications for Intercultural Encounters: Conversational Skills
Greeting and Leave Taking
Implications for Intercultural Encounters: Conflict Management Skills