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COMM311: Intercultural Communication

Unit 1: Communication among Cultures   As you have surely experienced many times, communication between members of the same culture can be challenging and can often be hampered by misunderstanding, confusion, and a lack of shared meaning.  These miscommunications can take place despite the fact that members of the same culture often share beliefs and worldviews.  Miscommunication can be prevalent despite the appearance that people are communicating successfully, because they share a language.  Communication failure stems from issues of individualism versus collectivism (individual orientation vs. group orientation), masculinity versus femininity, power distance (relationships between those with and without power), uncertainty avoidance (level of comfort with uncertainty), and long-term versus short-term orientation.

When individuals from different cultures engage in communication, the opportunity for miscommunication multiplies.  The list of variables that can come into play grows exponentially as the communication situation changes from a shared cultural perspective to two or more cultures represented by the people talking together.  For example, if you are in a business meeting with others, including a man from Nigeria, you might notice some communication differences between the man and the others in the meeting.  If he is younger or a subordinate to you, he will likely avoid eye contact.  While you might consider this a sign of nervousness or deception, he would likely be avoiding eye contact out of respect for you.

Understanding some primary differences in cultural communication practices can serve as a starting point for developing intercultural communication competence by helping you better understand how to communicate among cultures.  This unit will explore differences in cultural communication practices.

Unit 1 Time Advisory
This unit should take approximately 29 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 1.1: 9.25 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 1.1.1: 0.25 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 1.1.2: 2 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 1.1.3: 2.75 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 1.1.4: 4 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 1.1.5: 0.25 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2: 8.25 hours

☐    Readings: 6 hours

☐    Web Media: 2 hours

☐    Lecture: 0.25 hours

☐    Subunit 1.3: 6.5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.4: 5 hours

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Identify barriers to competent communication among members of different cultures. - Explain the five dimensions of intercultural communication. - Compare and contrast verbal and nonverbal communication behaviors in intercultural contexts.

1.1 Communication among Cultures   1.1.1 Individualism versus Collectivism   - Web Media: YouTube: Norfolk State University: William Hart’s “Collectivism/Individualism through Dance” Link: YouTube: Norfolk State University: William Hart’s “Collectivism/Individualism through Dance” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Please watch this video and listen for the
distinctions between individualism and collectivism.  The
perspective of thinking about yourself first versus the group first
is a difference among some cultures.  

 Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take
approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on thewebpage above.

1.1.2 Masculinity versus Femininity   - Reading: Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World (Comprehensive Edition): “Chapter 8: Gender and Gender Inequality” Link: Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World (Comprehensive Edition): “Chapter 8: Gender and Gender Inequality” (PDF)

 Instructions: Read Chapter 8, starting on page 352, to learn about
some of the differences in perception and behavior by and for men
and women. Note the details in the distinctions between masculinity
and femininity. Masculine traits and feminine traits are interpreted
differently by different cultures.  

 Reading this chapter should take approximately 2 hours.  

 Terms of Use: The text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a
[CreativeCommons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/) without
attribution as requested by the work's original creator or licensee.

1.1.3 Power Distance   - Web Media: YouTube: Sunsilvercat’s “Low and High Context Cultures” Link: YouTube: Sunsilvercat’s “Low and High Context Cultures” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and watch this video. 
Note that the video highlights the pioneering work of Edward T.
Hall.  Dr. Hall and others explain that cultures differ in how much
they factor in their surroundings when they communicate.  High
context cultures will have high regard for speaking in a way to
preserve, foster, and recognize relationships.  Low context cultures
will give more weight to individual concerns and logical outcomes.  

 Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take
approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Wikipedia’s “High Context Culture” Link: Wikipedia’s “High Context Culture” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the Wikipedia entry on high context culture.

    Reading this entry should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Rhetoric, Professional Communication, and Globalization: Peter Cardon and Ephraim Okoro’s “A Meta-Analysis of the Cultural Propositions about Conflict Management Styles in Face-Negotiation Theory” Link: Rhetoric, Professional Communication, and Globalization: Peter Cardon and Ephraim Okoro’s “A Meta-Analysis of the Cultural Propositions about Conflict Management Styles in Face-Negotiation Theory” (PDF)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the article by Peter Cardon    from the University of South Carolina and Ephraim Okoro from Howard   University.  This reading deals with power distance and is an intensive research article.

    Studying this reading this entry should take approximately 2 hours to complete.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.4 Uncertainty Avoidance   - Reading: Wikibooks’ Communication Theory: Charles Berger and Richard Calabrese’s “Uncertainty Reduction” Link: Wikibooks’ Communication Theory: Charles Berger and Richard Calabrese’s “Uncertainty Reduction” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this article
about uncertainty reduction.  This article provides a brief synopsis
of Berger and Calabrese’s founding work on uncertainty and
uncertainty reduction.  Uncertainty reduction (also known as
uncertainty avoidance) deals with efforts people typically employ to
increase their level of knowledge and understanding of a situation. 
These efforts are undertaken, because uncertainty (not knowing) is
typically uncomfortable and stressful.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 2 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Europe’s Journal of Psychology: Jennifer L. Matic’s "The Degree of Uncertainty Avoidance Present in Croatian and American Undergraduate Students: A Comparative Analysis” Link: Europe’s Journal of Psychology: Jennifer L. Matic’s "The Degree of Uncertainty Avoidance Present in Croatian and American Undergraduate Students: A Comparative Analysis” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this research article by Jennifer L. Matic, instructor at the American College of Management and Technology in Croatia.  This article presents findings on uncertainty avoidance in Croatian and American undergraduate students.

    Reading this article should take approximately 2 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.5 Long-Term versus Short-Term Orientation   - Web Media: YouTube: David Solomon’s “Cross Cultural Communication on the Culture of Time” Link: YouTube: David Solomon’s “Cross Cultural Communication on the Culture of Time” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Please watch this video featuring David Solomon,
director of the consulting organization Cross Cultural
Communication.  He explains how time is viewed and valued
differently by members of different cultures.  As you watch the
video, consider how you perceive time and how you would react in
situations where others perceive time differently.  

 Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take
approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.2 Verbal and Nonverbal Communication among Cultures   - Reading: Plos One: Shui’ er Han, Janani Sundararajan, Daniel Liu Bowling, Jessica Lake, and Dale Purves’ “Co-Variation of Tonality in the Music and Speech of Different Cultures” Link: Plos One: Shui’ er Han, Janani Sundararajan, Daniel Liu Bowling, Jessica Lake, and Dale Purves’ “Co-Variation of Tonality in the Music and Speech of Different Cultures” (HTML or PDF)

 Instructions: Please click on the above link and read the entire
article, which deals with differences in vocal tone according to
culture.  You may access a PDF of this article by clicking on the
“PDF” link after “Download” on the webpage linked above.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: The article is published with a [Creative Commons
Attribution 2.5
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/) by *Plos One*,
a peer reviewed, open-access journal.
  • Reading: Delta: Zoltán Kövecses’ “Metaphor, Language, and Culture” Link: Delta: Zoltán Kövecses’ “Metaphor, Language, and Culture” (HTML or PDF)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the article by Professor Kövecses of Eotuos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary.  This article discusses the relationship between culture and language, including the use of metaphor in different cultures as a means to make meaning of the world.

    Reading this article should take about 2 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: YouTube: Berlitz Cultural Consulting: Marco Chan’s “Communicating Effectively across Cultures” Link: YouTube: Berlitz Cultural Consulting: Marco Chan’s “Communicating Effectively across Cultures” (YouTube)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and watch this webinar, produced by the Berlitz Cultural Consulting Firm.  This webinar provides an excellent overview of verbal and nonverbal considerations in intercultural communication.  The intent of this webinar is to facilitate efficient communication among different cultures in the workplace or in business interactions.  However, the material is easily applied to a wide range of contexts and serves as an excellent primer on adapting ones’ communication with people outside of ones’ own cultural worldview.

    Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: YouTube: Artichoke Press: Judy H. Wright’s “Nonverbal Communication – Body Language” Link: YouTube: Artichoke Press: Judy H. Wright’s “Nonverbal Communication – Body Language” (YouTube)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and watch this video.  In this video, Judy H. Wright – life educator, coach, and founder of Artichoke Press – explains basic considerations in the role of culture in nonverbal communication.

    Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Lee Hopkins’ Better Communication Results: “Nonverbal Communication – an Overview”, “Nonverbal Communication and Space”, and “Nonverbal Communication – Touch” Link: Lee Hopkins’ Better Communication Results: “Nonverbal Communication – an Overview” (HTML), “Nonverbal Communication and Space” (HTML), and “Nonverbal Communication – Touch” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the links above and read these articles.  These articles explore some of the basic principles and considerations of nonverbal communication between people of the same and different cultures.

    Reading these articles should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • Reading: Lee Hopkins’ Better Communication Results: Neil Payne’s “Cross-Cultural Solutions for International Business” Link: Lee Hopkins’ Better Communication Results: Neil Payne’s “Cross-Cultural Solutions for International Business” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read the article for an overview of cross-cultural solutions for the global business world.

    Reading this article should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Lee Hopkins’ Better Communication Results: Gwen Stewart’s “Listening Skills” Link: Lee Hopkins’ Better Communication Results: Gwen Stewart’s “Listening Skills” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this article for an overview of a very important nonverbal communication skill: listening.

    Reading this article should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use:  Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Plos One: Caroline Blais, Rachael E. Jack, Christoph Scheepers, Daniel Fiset, and Roberto Caldara’s “Culture Shapes How We Look at Faces” Link: Plos One: Caroline Blais, Rachael E. Jack, Christoph Scheepers, Daniel Fiset, and Roberto Caldara’s “Culture Shapes How We Look at Faces” (HTML or PDF)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this article, which addresses how our cultural background will have an effect on how we interpret facial displays.  You may access the PDF of this article by clicking on the “PDF” link after “Download” on the webpage linked above.

    Reading this article should take approximately 2 hours.

    Terms of Use: The article is published with a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License by Plos One, a peer reviewed, open-access journal.

  • Web Media: YouTube: Steven R. Van Hook's “Transcultural Marcom” Link: YouTube: Steven R. Van Hook's “Transcultural Marcom” (YouTube)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and watch this video on international communication tactics in marketing, using themes and images that transcend cultural differences.

    Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.3 Stereotyping and Bias   - Reading: Principles of Social Psychology: “Chapter 12: Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination” Link: Principles of Social Psychology: “Chapter 12: Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and read Chapter 12,
which identifies the prevalence and dangers of stereotypes,
prejudice, and discrimination in communication.  

 Reading this chapter should take approximately 3 hours.  

 Terms of Use: The text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a
[CreativeCommons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/) without
attribution as requested by the work's original creator or licensee.
  • Reading: Plos One: Sophie Lebrecht, Lara J. Pierce, Michael J. Tarr, and James W. Tanaka’s “Perceptual Other-Race Training Reduces Implicit Racial Bias” Link: Plos One: Sophie Lebrecht, Lara J. Pierce, Michael J. Tarr, and James W. Tanaka’s “Perceptual Other-Race Training Reduces Implicit Racial Bias” (HTML or PDF)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read the entire article, which explains how training in racial facial recognition can help reduce racial bias.  You may access the PDF of this article by clicking on the “PDF” link after “Download” on the webpage linked above.

    Reading this article should take approximately 2 hours.

    Terms of Use: The article is published with a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License by Plos One, a peer reviewed, open-access journal.

  • Reading: University of Kansas: The Community Toolbox: Chris Hampton and Kien Lee’s “Strategies for Reducing Racial Prejudice and Racism” Link: University of Kansas: The Community Toolbox: Chris Hampton and Kien Lee’s “Strategies for Reducing Racial Prejudice and Racism” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read the article to learn about racism, prejudice, and how to reduce the prevalence of both.

    Reading this article should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.4 Unit 1 Discussion   - Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “COMM311 Course Discussion Board” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “COMM311 Course Discussion Board”

 Instructions:  After reviewing the unit materials, please post and
respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. 
Feel free to start your own related posts and respond to other
students’ posts.  

 1. Think of any extended interaction you might have had with
someone or a group of people from a different national and cultural
background.  What did you notice as some of the most pronounced
differences between your culture and theirs?   
 2. Beyond some of the cultural classifications discussed in this
unit, what others can you think of to add?  
 3. What topics of common ground might you focus on for effective
communications in a multi-cultural setting?  What topics might best
be avoided?  

 You should dedicate approximately 5 hours to posting and responding
on the discussion board.