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Intercultural Communications Test 1


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Major reasons for increased intercultural contact
- Cheaper AirTravel
- Personal income has increased
- Increased international trade (33% of US profits)
- Shift toward a global economy (80% of new jobs are foreign trade)
- Increase in student exchange programs
- Advances in communication technology, especially Internet
- Immigration (2/3’s of the worlds immigrants come to US)
- Increase in political stability (eg: the end of the cold war)
- Pollution (nations communicate about environmental issues)
- Importation and exportation of mass media ( tv shows, movies, news)
Ten myths of communication
1: Communication is a simple process because talking is easy
2: Communication is the exchange of information, such as thoughts and feelings
3: People can communicate objectively (with bias or values)
4: People act rationally
5: Most people think before they talk
6: The way to solve all conflicts is to talk it out
7: There is a set of communication behaviors that represent competence
8: Words have correct meanings that are found in dictionaries
9: Everything is communication, what I observe communicates to me
10: Communication is a trivial activity
Elements of Communication:
-Physical Context
-Social Context
-Frame of Reference
mind to message: Neural energy is transformed into kinetic energy
message to mind: message is interpreted
The person who encodes the message
Receiver :
The person who decodes the message
Perceptible energy generated by the sender, during face to face interaction, a message can consist of two types of information:
Verbal: semantic(word meanings) and Syntactic (rules of how to use words)
Non Verbal: vocal inflection, touch, gestures, facial expression
: (also known as “medium”) The means by which the message is conveyed to the receiver, such as visually (Facial expressions)
Perceptible energy (message) or the lack thereof provided by the receiver in response to a message
Anything that interferes with the decoding of the message, Noise can be internal( distracting thoughts, feelings, images) or external ( sounds, sights, smell)
Physical Context:
The environment external to the communicators, such as physical location, colors, temp, population density, plant and animal life, objects
Social Context:
The environment created by culture, such as interaction norms, role expectations, meanings. Social context might serve to answer questions such as: what do we talk about? Who talks first? What symbols are appropriate? What nonverbal behaviors are desirable?
Frame of Reference:
The thoughts, feelings, experiences, beliefs, values that are unique to each individual (AKA: Personality)
What are the components that comprise the linguistic and behavioral structures of culture?
-Haptic (TOUCH) Structures
-Vocalic Structures
-Proxemic (SPACE) Structures
-Kinesic (MOVEMENT) Structures
-Chronemic (TIME) Structures
-Artificial(OBJECTS) Structure
Agreed upon meanings for words (ex: Truck in American English refers to a vehicle used to haul loads, same thing in British English is known as “lorry”) Soda, Coke, Pop….
Agreed upon rules for how to organize and use words ( sentence composition such as subject-verb object, rules for gendered words, and rules for showing formality/ politeness)
A brief phrase or sentences using colorful and vivid language that communicates preferred ways of acting, supported by a set of implicit values (Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, Patience is a virtue, silence is golden)
Commonly used phrases or expressions that have meaning beyond a literal interpretation of the words (ex: “Blow off some steam”, “ Chill out”, “kick the bucket” )
Haptic (Touch) Structures:
Norms (when, where, with whom, how long) and meanings given to the use of touch (holding hands = Intimacy, clasping hands= greeting) Touch is often used to convey emotions and feelings)
Vocalic Structures:
Variations in the voice that convey meaning (pitch, volume, rate, quality, pause and emphasis) How do you signal a question (lowering your pitch at the end of a sentence) What meaning is silence given, Agreement, disagreement, tension, contentment? Culture also attach meaning to patterns of sounds that are not words (AHHHHHHH, SHHHHH,)
Proxemic (Space) Structures:
Norms regarding the use and meanings associated with space( how close you stand next to someone) Who gets more space? How do you arrange seating? What are the rules that link space and intimacy of the relationship?
Kinesic (Movement) Structures:
Rules and interpretations given for movement (gestures, facial expressions, eye behavior) Ex: Do you give direct eye contact? If so, how much, how long?
Chronemic (Time) Structures:
Rules and interpretations given to the use of time. If you are invited to a dinner at 7pm, when should you arrive? How important is time? Should you do one thing at a time or many things (multitasking)? How much awareness is given to time?
Artifactual (Objects) Structure:
Rules and interpretations given to objects associated with an individual (such as a hat, nose ring, Armani suit, watch, makeup)
Narrative Structures
- Stories
- Myths
- History
- Fables
- Rituals/ Ceremonies
- Games
- Music/ Art
- Drama/ Dance
- Sports
A broad category of communication structures, consisting of the telling of a coherent set of events intended to convey a meaning or value. Stories typical have a clear beginning and end.
Saga (A story based upon a great historical event containing dramatic elements making the tale partially true) legend (George Washington and the cherry tree) Folktale (a generic adventure built upon a sequence of events)
A coherent set of events based upon factual information that convey the importance to a culture. Typically imparting key values (battle of Gettysburg)
A ficticious story (often using animals as characters) constructed to convey a moral or value (boy who cried wolf)
Ritulas/ Ceremonies:
Actions done formally and repeatedly that carry cultural meaning, such as birth, rituals, marriage rituals, dinner table rituals
A non Athletic competition or activity governed by rules, designed for entertainment or the development of skills (physical and or mental) Both the rules and how the game “should” be played might suggest cultural values, such as chess, checkers, monopoly, Pictionary, etc…
Music/ Art:
A creative arrangement of sounds or images intended to convey a mood, feeling, idea or value governed by a complex set of rules (rhythm, chord structure, symphonic structure, light and shadow, color scheme)
Drama/ Dance:
A special form of a storytelling where individuals re-enact the events through monologue, dialogue, and or physical action. Drama typically has a protagonist (audience sides with this person) and antagonists (audience is against this person) and a struggle that leads to an emotional peak then resolves.
An athletic competition governed by rules, designed for entertainment or the development of physical and mental skills. How the sport “should” be played might convey cultural values.
Institutional Structures:
- Family
- Education
- Government
- Business
- Health Care
- Religion
The foundational social group of culture formed by marriage and linked by kinship. Family is thought to be the most influential institution of culture. Some key questions
oWhat constitutes a family
oIs the family nuclear or extended
oHow important is the family in making important decisions made within the family (autocratic, democratic)
A formalized system of instruction, designed to impart culturally important information underscored by a collective set of values and practices. Some key questions:
oWhat subjects are important
oWho goes to college
oWhat is the relationship between teachers and students
oWhat learning styles are preferred (lecture vs experimental)
A formalized organization of people designed to oversee and implement the affairs of the state, based upon a shared set of values and practices. Some key questions:
oWhat role does government play in daily life
oDoes government encourage or discourage competition
oWhat are the laws and what are the implicit values they convey?
oWho has the ultimate authority in the government
A formalized organized of individuals designed to provide goods and service. The manner in which business is organized and enacted is grounded in a shared set of values and practices. Some key questions:
oWhat is the basic structure of business (the pyramid, networks, teams)
oWho makes the important decisions
oWho communicates with whom and when
oWhat is the relationship between business and community
A formalized system designed to address issues of health, illness and wellness. Health care includes both physical and mental issues regarding illness and wellness. Some questions:
o Why do people get sick
o How is sickness treated
o What is the relationship between provider and patient
o Do you treat the disease or the whole person
o What role does the community play in health care
A formalized system of beliefs and practices regarding a transcendent reality. Religion differs from “spirituality” because of its formalized values and practices (ceremonies, texts, objects) Some questions:
o What is considered moral conduct
o What are the dietary rules
o What are the rights of passage
o What are the religious holidays
o What meanings is ascribed to them
o Who communicates with the higher power
Communication is a simple process because talking is easy
Pronunciation of basic words takes constant practice for infants over many years. Communication is extremely complex, it changes constantly and is the product of numerous factors.
Communication is the exchange of information, such as thoughts and feelings
Communication is both creative and rhetorical. We shape and are shaped by our communication behavior. Communication also shapes our identity because we can infer how others see us.
People can communicate objectively (with bias or values)
What we choose to communicate about and what we don’t chose to communicate about reveals our value bias. Ex: TV news can never be objective because the decision as to what is news indicates a certain value system.
People act rationally
People respond emotionally the use analytical thinking to make the decision appear rational. Emotion, not logic is the primary motivation for our behavior.
Most people think before they talk
The majority of our communication behavior is the product of habit rather than thought. We don’t often think about our choice of words, the structure of our sentences or even the tone of our voice. Enacting habits to make daily communication manageable.
The way to solve all conflicts is to talk it out
Cultures differ on what is appropriate to resolve conflict. Some cultures may disapprove of open conflict. Some people may agree to disagree.
There is a set of communication behaviors that represent competence
Competent behavior depends upon the culture and situation norms. Even the communication of yes and no using the head shake can differ.
Words have correct meanings that are found in dictionaries
Meanings of words are found in people who use them. Words meaning something to you may mean nothing to others ex: (bootilicious,metrosexal,brewski)
Everything is communication, what I observe communicates to me
Communication is a two way process that consists of encoding and decoding. A Cloud you make think communicates that it is going to rain but it really isn’t because a cloud can not encode the message of rain.
Communication is a trivial activity
Message we receive affect us profoundly. Our biochemical structure changes every time we communicate. The messages we receive also influence our emotions and shape our self perception. Every message we send and receive has some degree of physical, psychological and social impact.

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