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Chapter 2

Understanding Culture and Communication


1. Defining Culture (system of learned and shared symbols, language, values, and norms that
distinguish one group of people from another)
a. Society: Large groups of people who share a given culture.
i. Culture is a property of people.
b. Distinguishing Between In-Groups and Out-Groups
i. In-Group: a group with whom we identify
ii. Out-Group: a group we see as different from ourselves
1. Immigrants often experience abnormally high stress during their first year in
their new homeland culture shock: jarring reaction we have when we find
ourselves in highly unfamiliar situations
2. Stress associated with out-group status can contribute to depression, high
blood pressure, and heart disease.
iii. Ethnocentrism: the systematic preference for characteristics of ones own culture
c. Acquiring A Culture
i. Culture is learned. Learning process is called enculturation.
1. Culture is determined by who raised us, where we were raised, and by the
symbols, language, values, and norms of that place.
ii. Culture is not necessarily related to or based on our ethnicity, which is our
perception of our ancestry or heritage.
iii. Culture is not necessarily tied to our nationality, our status as a citizen of a
particular country.
2. The Components of Culture
a. Symbols: represent an idea
i. Each society makes use of symbols that carry particular meanings for its members.
1. Ex: Bald Eagle and U.S. Flag
b. Language
i. Language allows for written and spoken communication, and it also ensures that
cultures and cultural ideas are passed from one generation to the next.
1. Chinese, Spanish, and English are the three most commonly spoken
languages in the world.
c. Values
i. A cultures values are its standards for judging how good, desirable, or
beautiful something is.
1. Theyre cultural ideas about what ought to be.
2. Individual choice, democracy, and material comfort are all cultural values of
the United States.
d. Norms
i. Norms are rules or expectations that guide peoples behavior in a culture.
1. Ex: norms for greeting people
3. Cultures and Co-Cultures
a. Defining Co-Cultures
i. Co-Cultures: groups of people who share values, customs, and norms related
to mutual interests or characteristics besides their national citizenship.
b. The Bases of Co-Cultures
i. Some co-cultures are based on shared activities or beliefs.
1. Ex: fly fishing, organic gardening, Baptists, Buddhists
ii. Some reflect differences in mental or physical abilities.
1. Ex: deaf people frequently maintain a steady mutual gaze while
communicating through sign language; also they often make a point to notify
others they are leaving a room
c. Belonging to Multiple Co-Cultures
i. Many people identify with several co-cultures at once.
ii. Some co-cultures have smaller co-cultures within them.
1. Ex: deaf co-culture comprises people who advocate using only sign language
as well as individuals who support the use of cochlear implants
4. Communicating with Cultural Awareness
a. People with different cultural backgrounds dont just communicate differently; in many
cases they also think differently.
b. Similarity Assumption: we presume that most people think the same way we do, without
asking ourselves whether thats true

How Culture Affects Communication
1. Individualism and Collectivism
a. Individualistic Culture: people believe that their primary responsibility is to
themselves.
i. Responsible for only our immediate family (spouse, children, and parents) and
ourselves.
1. Siblings not included in immediate family after you marry (you may care for
them and help them, but you are not responsible for them).
ii. Emphasize the importance of knowing oneself, being self-sufficient, and being true
to what one wants in life.
iii. Ex: United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia
iv. When people of this culture experience conflict they are expected to express it and
work towards resolving it.
v. In a bad economy: solution is to lay off people.
b. Collectivistic Culture: people are taught that their primary responsibility is to their
families, communities, and employers.
i. Focus on taking care of the needs of the group.
ii. Ex: Korea, Japan, and many countries in Africa and Latin America
iii. When people of this culture experience conflict they are taught to handle
disagreement much less directly, to preserve social harmony.
iv. In a bad economy: solution is to have everyone takes a pay cut.
2. Low and High-Context Cultures
a. Low-Context Culture: people are expected to be direct, say what they mean, and not
beat around the bush.
i. There is no relationship, so you have to state everything directly and more
information is needed.
ii. Value expressing oneself, sharing personal opinions, and trying to persuade others
to see things ones way.
iii. Openly reprimand
iv. Ex: United States, Canada, Israel, and most northern European countries
b. High-Context Culture: people are taught to speak much less directly. Maintaining
harmony and avoiding offending people are more important than expressing ones true
feelings.
i. Speak in a less direct, more ambiguous manner and convey much more of their
meaning through subtle behaviors and contextual cues such as facial expressions
and tone of voice.
ii. Criticism is more likely to take place in private; likely to point out responsibility to
the teams
iii. Ex: Korea, Native Americans, and the Maori of New Zealand
3. Low and High-Power-Distance Cultures
a. Low-Power-Distance Cultures: people believe that even though some individuals are
born with more advantages, no one in inherently better than anyone else
i. Doesnt mean that people are treated equally, only that they value the idea that they
should be.
ii. Ex: United States, Canada, Demark, Israel, Australia
iii. Expect friendships and romantic relationships to be based on love rather than social
status.
iv. Often taught that it is their right or even their responsibility to question authority.
1. Ex: It is not uncommon for people to ask Why? when their parents or
teachers tell them to do something.
b. High-Power-Distance Cultures: people are taught that certain people or groups
deserve to have more power than others and that respecting power is more
important than respecting equality
i. Ex: Brazil, Mexico, India, Singapore
ii. Expected to choose friends or mates from within their social class.
iii. Place great emphasis on obedience and respect for those in power. People are
taught to obey their parents and teachers without question.
4. Masculine and Feminine Cultures
a. In a highly feminine culture, people tend to value nurturance, quality of life, and service to
others.
i. Tend to believe mens and womens roles should not be strongly differentiated.
ii. Ex: Sweden, Chile, Netherlands
b. In a highly masculine culture, people tend to cherish traditionally masculine values such as
ambition, achievement, and acquisition of material goods
i. They also value sex-specific roles for women (nurturing) and men (wage-earning
and decision-making)
ii. Ex: Austria, Japan, and Mexico
5. Monochronic and Polychronic Cultures
a. Monochronic: view time as a commodity
i. Ex: Swiss, Germans, and most Americans
ii. Expect things to start on time and people to show up on time
b. Polychronic: conceive time as more holistic and fluid and less structured
i. Ex: Pakistan, Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa
ii. Do not prioritize efficiency and punctuality
6. Uncertainty Avoidance
a. Uncertainty Avoidance: the extent to which people try to avoid situations that are
unstructured, unclear, or unpredictable
i. Ex: Argentina, Portugal, Uruguay
b. Uncertainty Accepting: people are more open to new situations, and they are more
accommodating of people and ideas that are different from their own
i. Ex: Hong Kong, Jamaica, and New Zealand
7. Cultural Communication Codes (verbal and nonverbal behaviors whose meanings are often
understood only by people from the same culture)
a. Idioms: a phrase whose meaning is purely figurative; that is, we cannot understand the
meaning by interpreting the words literally.
i. Ex: kicking the bucket
b. Jargon: a specific form of idiomatic communication that often separates co-cultures is
jargon, or language whose technical meaning is understood by people within that co-
culture but not necessarily by those outside it.
i. Ex: physicians use precise medical terminology to communicate with one another
about medical treatments and conditions.
c. Gestures: movements, usually of the hands and arms, that express ideas.
i. The same gesture can have different meanings from society to society.

Understanding Gender and Communication
1. Gender) Roles and Communication
a. Gender: a broad term encompassing the influence of gender roles, biological sex, and
sexual orientation.
b. A role is a set of behaviors expected of someone in a particular social position.
i. Expectations for male and female behavior make up a cultures gender roles,
or norms for how men and women are suppose to act.
c. The Masculine Gender Role
i. Emphasizes strength, competition, independence, sexual aggressiveness, risk taking,
logical thinking, and the acquisition of resources
ii. Tends to reject weakness, emotional expressiveness, and characteristics or
behaviors that resemble those of women
iii. Men are much more likely than women to be victims in every type of crime expect
rape. Men are also much more likely to commit violent crimes.
iv. Masculinity emphasizes risk taking smoke, drink and drive, fail to use seatbelts
increase chance of illness, injury, and premature death
d. The Feminine Gender Role
i. Emphasizes empathy and emotional expressiveness; a focus on relationships and
maintaining them; an interest in bearing and raising children; and attentiveness to
appearance
ii. Women are more likely to develop depression and eating disorders because
emphasis on appearance puts pressure on women to achieve certain body types.
e. The Androgynous Gender Role
i. Androgyny: term used to describe the combination of masculine and feminine
characteristics.
1. Does not mean that a person is homosexual or bisexual or that they want to
be of the other sex.
2. Metrosexual: a man, usually a heterosexual, who has adopted the more
feminine behavior of playing a great deal of attention to his appearance
and grooming.
a. Term coined in 1994 by British journalist Mark Simpson
f. How Gender Varies by Time and Culture
i. Gender roles are never set in stone. Like most roles, they change over time, and
they vary from culture to culture.
2. Biological Sex and Communication
a. Transgendered: individuals who experience conflict between the sex they were born
into and the sex they feel they should be.
i. Transsexual: individuals who have undergone sex-reassignment surgery to
bring their physical body in line with their self-image.
b. Intersex: people who have internal sexual organs that do not match the external
appearance.
c. Chromosomal Disorders
i. Turner Syndrome: women who have only one X chromosome (XO).
ii. Klinefelter Syndrome: men who have an extra X chromosome (XXY).
3. Sexual Orientation (sex or sexes to which an individual is sexually attracted) and Communication
a. Heterosexuality: being physically and romantically attracted to people of the other sex.
b. Homosexuality: romantic and sexual attraction to members of ones own sex.
i. Gay men are less likely to express emotion than lesbians.
ii. The rates at which American men identify themselves as homosexual (2%)and
report having had a sexual relation with another man (6%) are not equal.
iii. About 1.3% of American women identify themselves as homosexual.
c. Bisexuality: having romantic and/or sexual attraction to both women and men.
d. Asexuality: used to describe people who have very little interest in sex.
i. Not the same as celibacy: practice of abstaining from sex
4. Some Explanations for Gendered Communication
a. Gender clash: the experience of each sex not understanding the other.

How Gender Affects Communication
1. Gender and Verbal Communication
a. Expressive and Instrumental Talk
i. Expressive Talk: women are taught to view communication as the primary way to
establish closeness and intimacy in relationship.
1. For women the purpose of sharing problems is to express ones feelings.
ii. Instrumental Talk: men are taught to see communication as a means to solve
problems and accomplish tasks.
1. For men the purpose of sharing problems is to get advice on how to solve
them.
b. Language and Power
i. Powerful Speech Behaviors:
1. Men often talk more than women do, particularly about impersonal topics
such as money and work.
a. Especially in powerful and workplace settings men tend to talk more.
b. It is a stereotype that women talk more than men.
i. Historically women spend the most time with children, so as
soon as the see an adult the first thing they want to do is talk to
them.
ii. Also before households had more than one car they had to stay
at home and couldnt go out for play dates where other adults
would be around.
2. Men also interrupt more frequently, give more directions, and express more
opinions.
3. Women ask more questions and use more disclaimers and hedges in their
speech.
ii. Linguistic Violence: language that degrades and dehumanizes a group of people.
1. Linguistic violence is also frequently direct against homosexual, bisexual,
and/or transgendered people. Those communities are frequently
marginalized: subject to unfair discrimination and prejudice.
c. Gendered Linguistic Styles
i. Women are more likely to use second and third person pronouns and to make
references to emotions when they talk.
1. Women also tend to use more intensive adverbs and speak in longer
sentences than men do.
ii. Mens linguistic style makes greater use of self-references and judgmental
adjectives.
1. Men are also more likely to use more references to quantity and to use
location in statements.
2. Gender and Nonverbal Communication
a. Touch and Body Movement
i. Personal space varies from culture to culture.
ii. Men use more body movement, prefer a greater amount of personal space around
them, and try harder to preserve their personal space when it is violated.
1. Some evidence suggests that gender role rather than biological sex is the
most influential factor with respect to personal space.
2. Men and women exhibit more-relaxed body movements when speaking to
men.
iii. Only Adults:
1. Men are more likely to touch women than women are to touch men unless
touch the touch is occurring as part of a greeting.
2. Other-sex touch is more common than same-sex touch.
3. In same-sex pairs, women touch each other more than men do, but that
difference is smaller in close friendships than among acquaintances.
iv. When One Party Involved in a Child:
1. Same-sex touch is more common than other-sex touch.
2. Women are more likely men to initiate touch.
3. Boys and girls are about equally likely to be touched.
b. Emotional Communication
i. Women express their emotions more frequently and openly than men.
1. They do not necessarily experience more emotion though.
2. More likely to express the emotions of happiness and sadness than men.
3. Women are more likely than men to express positive emotions.
ii. Women use more affiliation behaviors: behaviors that demonstrate feelings of
closeness or attachment to someone else.
1. Ex: eye contact, head nobs, pleasant facial expressions, and warm tones
c. Affectionate Behavior
i. Affectionate communication includes those behaviors we use to express our love
and appreciation for people we care about.
1. Women use more nonverbal affection behaviors-hugging, kissing, and
handholding
2. The more feminine people are, the more affectionate they are.


Within Social Science Research:
Communications: gets very specific about what they are looking at.
Sample Size tends to be smaller
Find that larger sample sizes typically dont show differences in results than when
smaller sample sizes are used.
Sociology: very broad topic
Uses extremely large sample size
Companies sample population on many things