Literature review on Cross-cultural communication

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Literature review on Cross-cultural communication

Cross-cultural communication





Literature review

Effective communication with individuals of dissimilar cultures is a significant challenge. This is because cultures provide individuals with ways of perceiving, interpreting, and thinking about the world. In turn, the same words can connote different things to individuals from different cultures, in spite of the idea that they employ the same language. There are three notable ways from which cultures impact language; cognitive constraints, behavior constraints, and emotional constraints. These elements are associable to each culture thereby affecting communication. Communication is, thus, a cultural element that connects with the ways of a community.

In the analysis about cross-cultural communication, there are confounding elements that involve in the discourse. To begin with, a culture or a subculture may refer to a certain group of people in terms of national contexts. This is what describes, for instance, Swedish culture and French culture. However, a cultural entity does not have to be a national group. Culture applies to whatever is distinguishable over a considerable period of time. In this sense, there is the sense of teenage culture, working-class culture or male culture.

An investigation into cross-cultural communication has always to the question of how individuals understand each other if they do not share a joining cultural experience. In the current world, multicultural communities that exist within a global village face this question in daily setting. This communication recognizes that individuals of different cultural experiences may share the same language. Besides, it recognizes that individuals of different cultural orientations may not share the same language.

Bennett analyzes the primate life into understanding how different groups tolerated each other’s differences (Bennett, 2001). The core argument builds on the idea that individuals have, in history, tackled cultural differences by avoiding the same. In this argument, he constructs the idea of primates gathering around a fire over a day’s catch. If another group of primates appear, there are two reactions that are likely to occur; fight or flight. This is an aspect that has not altered over time as individuals retreat to their backyard when they are confronted with cultural differences. In cases whereby individuals are mandated to tackle cultural differences, there is usually a fight. In history, groups that were unsuccessful in avoiding different people strove at converting them. This is the case of religious missionaries who strove to impose their beliefs on other groups. The idea was that if other people convert to given beliefs or cultural practices, the world becomes a better place.

The case of upper-case and lower case culture highlights the differences that exist in communication. In a traditional setting, an individual is high likely to associate culture with literature, art, dance or music. This is an objective sense of culture that does not comprehensively discuss communication. On the other hand, in the subjective examination of culture, psychological features of a society become valuable in the analysis of given communication patterns.

It is crucial to regard emotions as a significant component of individuals’ lives. This is because they color life by according them meaning and significance to the wellbeing of individuals. Emotions, such as sadness, fear, guilt and disgust, in that they communicate things about the self and define individuals’ relationship with other people. Emotions are also critical since they inspire behaviors. The conflict between cultures and individuals occur because of emotions that we experience. This suggests that the manner in which individuals deal with their negative emotions determine the relationships and nature of communication that occur between different cultural groups. Communication depends on the manner by which different cultural entities resolve their conflicts.

Proper communication between individuals of different cultures cannot occur if individuals do not tame their negative emotions. This is a scenario of inadequate critical thinking that deters resolution of conflicts as regards stereotypes and generalizations. Instead of creating new schemas that enhance ways of thinking, this scenario reinforces narrow and ethnocentric ways of perceiving each other.

Communication is a complex and rich process that entails multiple messages, which occur through multiple signal systems. Culture has a prominent impact on the encoding and decoding of nonverbal and verbal signals. Because of this element, misunderstandings and conflict are inevitable in cross-cultural communication. A useful strategy in cross-cultural communication is the involvement of personal growth model that focuses on emotional reactions and critical thinking.

Yang proposes that high and low-context is the primary cultural dimension that defines communication patterns in terms of information processing. In high-context cultures, there tends to be more reliance on internalized comprehension and less verbally explicit communication. Besides, they manifest rational, context-based, and situational knowledge (Yang, 2011). These cultural groups tend to express themselves in non-verbal and indirect style. On the other hand, individuals from low-context cultures, share transferable, codified, and external knowledge. Besides, they employ explicit communication style. Low and high-context communication styles are dependent on the social structures where individuals reside. This suggests that high-context cultures will tend to establish long-term, multifaceted, and close relationships. Within such relationships, greater boundaries among groups are established as individuals assume high-context information. On the other end, individuals from low-context cultures easily interact and communicate across various boundaries. Such individuals develop short-term relationships that thrive on external and explicit information. In a low-context pattern, there is a greater emphasis on independence that creates loosely bound relationships. This is because people share an individualistic social orientation that emphasizes on the self and nuclear family.

Lowell, on her study about the impact of healthcare on the Aboriginal community of Australia, recognizes that social, political, and cultural factors affect communication (Lowell, 2001). Differences in understanding, experiences, expectations, and interpretations are sources of communication failure between the Australian medical staff and the Aborigines. These differences are manifold between standard Australian English and Aboriginal English, And between Aboriginal languages and standard Australian English. Besides, attitudinal and social skills, such as motivation and power relations, and person’s unique intercultural negotiation skills impact on effectiveness of communication.

This was an instrumental study because the health staff would always employ a strategy of learning the given languages in the community they worked. This is usually viewable as a sufficient strategy of achieving effective communication with coworkers and Aboriginal clients. However, communication challenges emerged thereby proving that broad disparities in world view and cultural knowledge cannot be synchronized through shared linguistic knowledge. Once an individual does not comprehend the emotional and attitudinal perspectives that attach to words of a different language, it becomes ineffective to share a language.

Wang utilized brainstorming to uncover the differences and similarities that display in communication between different cultural groups (Wang, 2009). Brainstorming is a process of finding ideas from individuals by discouraging criticism. The assumption exists in the view that individuals are more likely to put forward their ideas if they overhear each other’s creations and share the freedom of presenting unconventional arguments. In the findings, it was discovered that cultural groups increase their talkativeness as depending on contexts of discussions.


The hypothesis in this study is; emotional associations to cultural groups are vital determinants to nature of communication that transpire between individuals of different cultures.

Research methods

In the research, the main type of data would be from secondary sources. This is because they present various empirical studies that share conclusions about different elements to communications. The research would be descriptive in presenting empirical conclusions out of tested models to interactions.


To begin with, it was discernible that different cultural groups could increase their talkativeness as depending on contexts if discussions. By examining elements of brainstorming, certain individuals could talk more if they utilized text-media. On the other hand, other individuals could talk more if they employed verbal media. In cases where there was a dominant cultural group, in terms of numbers of people, there would be a tendency for the less dominant group to adopt the communication style of the other group (Matsumoto, 2005).

In terms of Aboriginal clients and workers in Australia, it was discernible that there are additional factors that play in cross-cultural communication (Lowell, 2001). These factors surpass the mere idea of sharing a similar language. Different cultural groups perceive and react to words differently. This is because they possess different attitudes and emotional orientation of connoting and denoting words.

A major discovery on cross-cultural communication involved high and low-context cultures. High and low-context communication synchronizes with the social structures that exist in given societies. In the investigation, it was uncovered that individuals from high-context cultures tend to manifest lower level of sentiment in their communications. On the other hand, individuals from low-context cultures expressed higher levels of sentiment in their communication.


It is arguable that the findings supported hypothesis. However, emotions are only part of the components that influence communication between cultures. A critical look at cross-cultural communication involves examining all the elements that involve cultures. In the examination of cultures as variables to communication, emotions, behavior and thinking orientations exist within the frame.

In societies that hold certain elements as objective, individuals will tend to align their communication within conservative limits. This suggests that communication will involve metaphors and strong cultural elements that never separate in individuals’ argument. On the other hand, liberal societies promote free expression and explicit communication that involved loud conversations and discourses.

Each culture involves existing individuals that share similar experiences. These experiences affect how individuals react and denote communication elements. This suggests that individuals how learn foreign languages have to participate in the cultural understanding that involves interpretation of words. Certain cultures may involve quick reactions and openness to situations because experiences informed such a conscience. In cross-cultural communication, an individual must recognize this perspective in one’s expression and response to conversations.

In cross-cultural communication, it is vital to recognize of the idea that individuals exploit their elements of familiarity to judge situations. In addition, their personality embeds in their communication styles. It is, therefore, unreasonable to make stereotypes and generalize cultural influences on communication. In this perspective, individuals of a certain group that live in a foreign society are different from their counterparts who live in original societies. This is the recognition that culture is a rich and complex factor in communication.


Lowell, A. (2001). A review of two subprograms of the cooperative research centre for Aboriginal and tropical health’s indigenous health and education research program. Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal and Tropical Health, 1(1), 1-40.

Yang, J (2011). Collaborating globally: culture and organizational computer-mediated communication. Information systems, 1(9), 1-20.

Matsumoto, D (2005). Emotion and intercultural communication: the role of culture in communication process. Psychology journal, 26(3), 15-29.

Wang, H. (2009). Cultural Difference and Adaptation of Communication Styles in Computer-Mediated Group Brainstorming. Communication department, 36(2), 669-678.

Bennett, Milton, J. (2000). Intercultural communication: a current perspective. Culture and communication journal, 23(2), 1-20.

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