Ch 4 outline - Beebe

After reading this chapter, students should be able to:
1. Describe five human differences that influence communication.
2. Define culture.
3. Identify cultural elements, values, and contexts.
4. Discuss barriers that inhibit effective intercultural communication.
5. Identify strategies for developing knowledge, motivation, and skills that can improve
intercultural competence.
Communication researchers have studied several major different that affect the way we
interact with one another. Each of these differences has an effect on how we perceive others and
interact with them.
Culture is learned and shared by a group of people. Cultural elements may include things
and ideas, institutions, beliefs, aesthetics, and language. Cultural change occurs through
enculturation and acculturation. Cultural values provide insights into behavior. Cultural context
provides insights into verbal and nonverbal message formation and interpretation.
Intercultural communication often suffers from barriers, including ethnocentrism,
ambiguity, stereotypes, prejudice, and erroneous assumptions.
Bridging cultural differences requires seeking information about the culture, increasing
other-orientation, asking for more information, becoming mindful, flexible, and tolerant, and
avoiding making negative judgments about other cultures. Through development of knowledge,
motivation, and specific skills, one can acquire and hone intercultural competence.
(All key terms appear in bold)
I. Understanding Diversity: Describing Our Differences
A. Gender refers to psychological and emotional characteristics that cause people to
assume masculine, feminine, or androgynous roles.
B. Sexual orientation
1. There is evidence that gay and lesbian individuals continue to be judged
negatively based solely on their sexual orientation.
Chapter 4 - Interpersonal Communication and Cultural Diversity: Adapting to Others
2. An effective and appropriate interpersonal communicator is aware of and
sensitive to issues and attitudes about sexual orientation in contemporary society.
C. Race and ethnicity
1. Race is based on the genetically transmitted physical characteristics of a
group of people who are classified together.
2. Ethnicity is a social classification based on a variety of factors that are shared
by a group of people who also share a common geographic origin.
3. Discrimination is the unfair or inappropriate treatment of other people based
on their group membership.
D. Age
1. Generational differences have an effect on a variety of relationships.
2. Your generation of origin has important implications for communication.
E. Social class
1. Cues we use to identify class distinctions are 1) way of life, 2) family, 3) job,
4) money, and 5) education.
2. There are principles that describe how social classes emerge from society.
II. Understanding Culture: Describing Our Mental Software
• Culture is a learned system of knowledge, behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, values, and
norms that is shared by a group of people.
• A sub-culture is a distinct cultural group within a larger culture.
A. Cultural elements are categories of things and ideas that identify the most profound
aspects of cultural influence
1. Material culture: things and ideas.
2. Social institutions: schools, governments, and religious organizations.
3. Belief systems: ideas about individuals and the universe.
4. Aesthetics: music, theater, art, and dance.
5. Language: verbal and nonverbal communication systems.
B. How we learn our culture
1. Enculturation is the process of communicating a group’s culture from
generation to generation
2. Cultural elements and values are transmitted through acculturation: the
process through which an individual acquires new approaches, beliefs, and values
by coming into contact with other cultures.
C. Cultural values are what a given group of people values or appreciates.
1. There are great differences among the world’s cultural values.
2. Hofstede (1980) identified four variables for measuring values that are
significant in almost every culture.
a) Masculine versus feminine perspectives.
b) Avoidance of uncertainty
c) Distribution of power
d) Individualism
D. Masculine versus feminine perspectives
1. Masculine cultures value achievement, assertiveness, heroism, and material
a) More value is placed on traditional roles for men and women.
b) These cultures view communication from a content orientation
(information exchange).
c) Males base their friendships on sharing activities rather than talking.
2. Feminine cultures value relationships, caring for the less fortunate, and
overall quality of life.
a) These cultures value caring for the less fortunate, being sensitive
toward others, and enhancing the overall quality of life.
b) Women approach communication for the purpose of relating to others
and to know and be known by others.
3. Women communicate to establish rapport.
E. Tolerance of uncertainty versus avoidance of uncertainty.
1. Some cultures have a higher tolerance for uncertainty and have more relaxed,
informal expectations of others.
2. Some cultures have a higher need for certainty and have and enforce rigid
rules of behavior and develop more elaborate codes of conduct.
F. Concentrated versus decentralized distribution of power.
1. Centralized power cultures value having power in the hands of a small number
of people.
2. Decentralized power cultures favor equality and an even distribution of power
in government and organizations.
G. Individual versus group achievement.
1. Individualistic cultures value individual achievement and accomplishments.
2. Collectivist cultures value group and team collaboration.
H. Cues from cultural context are used to enhance messages and meaning in each
1. Cultural context implies that information is not explicitly communicated
through language but through environmental or nonverbal cues.
2. High-context cultures derive much information from nonverbal and
environmental cues.
3. Low-context cultures derive much information from the words of a message
and less information from nonverbal and environmental cues.
III. Barriers to effective communication may come from having different languages or different
interpretations of nonverbal cues.
• Intercultural communication involves communication between or among people
who have different cultural traditions.
• Culture shock is the sense of confusion, anxiety, stress, and loss when you encounter
a culture that has little in common with your own.
A. Ethnocentrism stems from a conviction that your own cultural traditions and
assumptions are superior to those of others.
B. Different communication codes for verbal and nonverbal communication may also
impede your ability to connect with someone of another culture.
C. Stereotyping and prejudice can keep us from considering the uniqueness of
individuals, groups, or events.
Chapter 4 - Interpersonal Communication and Cultural Diversity: Adapting to Others
1. To stereotype someone is to push him or her into an inflexible, allencompassing
2. Prejudice is a judgment or opinion of someone formed before you know all
of the facts or background of that person.
D. Assuming similarities and differences with others may lead to erroneous impressions.
IV. Improving Intercultural Competence
A. Intercultural communication competence is the ability to adapt your behavior
toward another I ways that are appropriate to the other person’s culture.
B. Developing bridging strategies
1. Develop appropriate knowledge
2. Develop motivation – an internal state of readiness to respond to something
3. Develop skill
C. Developing knowledge: Strategies to understand others who differ from us
1. Seek information about the culture to help manage your anxiety about the
a) Information can help you understand the world view of the culture:
the perception shared by a culture or group of people about key beliefs and
issues, such as death, God, and the meaning of life, which influences
interaction with others.
2. Ask questions and listen effectively.
a) Be prepared to share information about yourself.
b) Listen to what is shared by others.
3. Develop a Third Culture — common ground established when people from
separate cultures create a third, “new,” more comprehensive and inclusive culture.
a) This new culture evolves from talk and dialogue.
b) Developing a third culture can reduce our tendency to approach
cultural differences from an “us versus them” point of view.
c) Developing a third culture can help establish relational empathy: the
essence of a relationship that permits varying degrees of understanding
rather than requiring complete comprehension of another’s culture or
D. Developing motivation: Strategies to accept others
1. Tolerate ambiguity about clarifying messages and behaviors.
2. Develop mindfulness: the awareness of cultural differences and the
connection between thoughts and deeds in one’s interactions with someone from a
background different from our own.
3. Avoid negative judgments about another culture
E. Developing skill: Strategies to adapt to others
1. Develop flexibility.
a) When you interact with someone from another background, your
responding skills are crucial.
b) Pay close attention to the other person’s nonverbal cues and adjust
your communication style and language if necessary to put the person at
c) Avoid asking questions or making statements based on
2. Become other-oriented.
a) Use social decentering: the cognitive process in which we take into
account another person’s thoughts, feelings, values, background, and
(1) Develop an understanding of another based on how you
responded when something similar happened to you.
(2) Base your understanding of others on the knowledge you have
about a specific person.
(3) Make generalizations about someone based on your
understanding of how you think most people would feel or behave.
b) Feel empathy for others.
(1) Empathy is an emotional reaction that is similar to the reaction
being experienced by another person; feeling what another is
(2) Sympathy is acknowledgment that someone may be feeling
bad; compassion toward someone.
3. Appropriately adapt your communication to others
a) To adapt is to adjust your behavior to others to accommodate
differences and expectations.
b) Communication accommodation theory suggests that all people
adapt to the behavior of others to some extent.
(1) We can adapt predictively by modifying or changing behavior
in anticipation of an event.
(2) We can adapt reactively by modifying or changing behavior
after an event.
c) Four reasons why you may adapt your communication with another
(1) Information
(2) Perceived behavior
(3) History
(4) Communication context