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KEY TERMS AND CONCEPTS

Chapter 1: The Necessity of Intercultural Communication
Chapter 2: The Cultural Context
Chapter 3: The Microcultural Context
Chapter 4: The Environmental Context
Chapter 5: The Perceptual Context
Chapter 6: The Sociorelational Context
Chapter 7: The Verbal Code
Chapter 8: The Nonverbal Code
Chapter 9: Developing Intercultural Relationships
Chapter 10: Intercultural Communication in Organizations
Chapter 11 Acculturation & Culture Shock
Chapter 12 Intercultural Competence

Chapter 1: The Necessity of Intercultural Communication

Communication: The simultaneous encoding, decoding, and interpretation of verbal and nonverbal messages between people.

Communication Apprehension: The fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communication with another person or group of persons.

Context: The cultural, physical, social, and psychological environment.

Culture: An accumulated pattern of values, beliefs, and behaviors shared by an identifiable group of people with a common history and verbal and nonverbal symbol system.

Dynamic: Something considered active and forceful.

Ethnocentrism: Tendency to place one's own group (cultural, ethnic, or religious) in a position of centrality and worth, and to create negative attitudes and behaviors toward other groups.

Environmental Context: The physical, geographical location of communication.

GENE: Self report instrument designed to measure generalized ethnocentrism.

Intentionality: During communication, the voluntary and conscious encoding and decoding of messages.

Interactive: A process between two people.

Intercultural Communication Apprehension (ICA): The fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communication with a person from another culture or co culture.

Intercultural Communication: Two persons from different cultures or co cultures exchanging verbal and nonverbal messages.

Micro culture: An identifiable group of people coexisting within some dominant cultural context.

Personal Report of Communication Apprehension (PRCA): Self report instrument designed to measure communication apprehension.

Process: Anything ongoing, ever changing, and continuous.

Perceptual Context: The attitudes, emotions, and motivations of the persons engaged in communication and how they affect information processing.

Socio Relational Context: The role relationship between the interactants (i.e., brother/sister).

Symbol: An arbitrarily selected and learned stimulus representing something else.

Transactional: The simultaneous encoding and decoding process during communication.

Uncertainty: The amount of unpredictability during communication.

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Chapter 2: The Cultural Context

Collectivism: Cultural orientation that the group is the primary unit of culture. Group goals take precedence over individual goals.

High Context: Cultural orientation where meanings are gleaned from the physical, social, and psychological contexts.

Horizontal Collectivism: Cultural orientation where the self is seen as a member of an ingroup whose members are similar to each other.

Horizontal Individualism: Cultural orientation where an autonomous self is valued but the self is more or less equal with others.

Individualism: Cultural orientation that the individual is unique and emphasizing individual goals over group goals.

Low Context: Cultural orientation where meanings are encoded in the verbal code.

Power Distance: The extent to which members of a culture expect and accept that power is unequally distributed.

Uncertainty Avoidance: The degree to which members of a particular culture feel threatened by unpredictable, uncertain, or unknown situations.

Values: Criteria for selecting and justifying behavior. Values have a cognitive, affective, and behavioral component.

Vertical Collectivism: Cultural orientation where the individual sees the self as an integral part of the ingroup but whose members are different than each other (e.g., status).

Vertical Individualism: Cultural orientation where an autonomous self is valued but the self is seen as different and perhaps unequal with others.

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Chapter 3: The Microcultural Context

African Americans: Micro cultural group in the United States whose ancestors were brought to the United States as slaves.

Amish: A micro cultural religiously oriented group whose members practice simple and austere living.

Dozens: A verbal battle of insults between speakers who are judged for their originality and creativity by a small group of listeners. This is the highest form of verbal warfare and impromptu speaking in many African American communities.

Ebonics: From the terms ebony and phonics, a grammatically robust and rich African American speech pattern whose roots are in West Africa.

Hispanic: Defined by the U.S. Government as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.


Hmong: Microculture belonging to the Sino Tibetan language family and are culturally similar to the Chinese. The Hmong, which means "free people" or "mountain people" fought for the United States during the Vietnam War and many have immigrated to the United States since the end of the war.

Microculture: An identifiable group of people who share a set of values, beliefs, and behaviors and who possess a common history and verbal and nonverbal symbol system that is similar to but systematically varies from the larger, often dominant cultural milieu.

Minority Group: Subordinate group whose members have significantly less power and control over their own lives than members of the dominant or majority group.

Muted Groups: Microcultures who are forced to express themselves (e.g., speak, write) within the dominant mode of expression.

Spanglish: Hybrid language combining the phonological features (i.e., sounds) and syntactic structures (grammar) of English and Spanish.

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Chapter 4: The Environmental Context

Built Environment: Adaptations to the terrestrial environment, including architecture, housing, lighting, and landscaping.

Fixed Feature Space: Space bounded by immovable or permanent fixtures, such as walls.

High Load: Situation with a high information rate.

Informal Space: Space defined by the movement of the interactants.

Information Rate: The amount of information contained or perceived in the physical environment per some unit of time.

Low Load: Situation with a low information rate.

Monochronic Time Orientation: Cultural temporal orientation that stresses the compartmentalization and segmenting of measurable units of time.

Polychronic Time Orientation: Cultural temporal orientation that stresses the involvement of people and the completion of tasks as opposed to strict adherence to schedules. Time is not seen as measurable.

Privacy: The degree to which an individual can control the visual, auditory, and olfactic interaction with others.

Semi fixed Featured Space: Space bounded by movable objects such as furniture.

Terrestrial Environment: The physical geography of the earth.

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Chapter 5: The Perceptual Context

Carpentered World Hypothesis: Learned tendency by those living in industrialized cultures to interpret non rectangular figures as rectangles in perspective.

Categorization: Classifying or sorting of perceived information into distinct groups.

Cognition: Higher mental processes, such as perception and memory.

Decay: Memory loss due to lack of use.

Discrimination: Acting or behaving in a negative way toward members of a distinct group (e.g., ethnic, racial) because of membership in the distinct group.

Episodic Memory: A component of long term memory where private individual memories are stored.

Ethnocentrism: Tendency to place one's own group or ethnicity in a position of centrality and worth while creating negative attitudes and behaviors towards other groups.

Ethnocentric Attributional Bias: The tendency to make internal attributions for the positive behavior of the ingroup while making external attributions for its negative behavior.

Interference: During recall, when new or old information blocks or obstructs the recall of other information.

Illusory Correlation Principle: When two objects or persons are observed to be linked in some way, people have a tendency to believe they are always linked (or correlated).

Long term Memory: Cognitive storage area where large amounts of information are held relatively permanently.

Memory: The storage of information in the human brain over time.

Outgroup Homogeneity Effect: The tendency to see members of an outgroup as highly similar while seeing the members of the ingroup as unique and individual.

Perception: The mental interpretation of external stimuli via sensation.

Perceptual Filters: Physical, social, and psychological processes that screen and bias incoming stimuli.

Prejudice: A preconceived judgment or opinion about a person or group of people based on their membership in a distinct group (often ethnic or racial). The preconceived opinion is usually, if not always, without merit.

Racism: An ideology promoting the superiority of one racial group over the others. The alleged superiority is ascribed to biological (i.e., racial) differences between groups.

Recall/Retrieval: To call to mind a recollection of stored information.


Semantic Memory: A part of long term memory where general information, such as how to read and write, and the meanings of words are stored.

Sensation: Gathering of visual, auditory, olfactic, haptic and taste stimuli/information.

Sensory Receptors: Eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and skin.

Sensory Register: Storage center for raw sense data.

Short term Memory: Cognitive storage area where small amounts of information are held for short periods of time, usually less than 20 seconds.

Stereotypes: A subset of categorizing involving the attribution of characteristics of a group to an individual based on the individual's membership in that group. Stereotypes are categories with an attitude.

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Chapter 6: The Sociorelational Context

Gender: A socially constructed and learned creation usually associated with one's sex; masculinity and femininity. People are born into a sex group, but learn to become masculine or feminine. The meaning of gender stems from the particular culture7s value system.

Ingroup: A membership group whose norms, goals, and values shape the behavior of the members. Extreme ingroups see the actions of an outgroup as threatening to the ingroup.

Involuntary Membership Group: A group to which a person belongs and has no choice but to belong, such as a person's sex, race, and age group.

Involuntary Nonmembership Group: A group to which a person does not belong because of ineligibility.

Membership Group: A group to which a person belongs where there is regular interaction among members who perceive of themselves as members.

Nonmembership Group: A group to which a person does not belong.

Outgroup: A group whose attributes are dissimilar from an ingroup's and who opposes the realization of ingroup goals.

Reference Group: A group to which a person may or may not belong, but identifies in some way with the values and goals of the group.

Role: One's relative hierarchical position or rank in a group. A role is a prescribed set of behaviors that are expected in order to fulfill the role; roles prescribed with whom, about what, and how to interact with others.

Sex: A designation of people based on biological genital differences.

Sex Role: A prescribed set of behaviors assigned to different sexes.

Social Identity: The total combination of one's group roles. A part of the individual's self concept that is derived from the person's membership in groups.

Social Stratification: A culture's organization of roles into a hierarchical vertical status structure.

Voluntary Membership Group: A membership group to which a person belongs out of choice, like a political party or service organization.

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Chapter 7: The Verbal Code


Affective Style: Communication manner where the process of interaction is emphasized placing the burden of understanding on both the speaker and the listener. Relies heavily on nonverbal cues.

Conceptual Symbols: Specific stimuli that refer to concepts that have no physical referent and exist in the mind of the user, such as "Liberty" or "Democracy."

Contextual Style: Role centered mode of speaking where one's choice of messages is influenced by one's relative status in the conversation.

Direct Style: Manner of speaking where one employs overt expressions of intention.

Elaborated Code: A cultural context wherein the speakers of a language have a variety of linguistic options open to them in order to explicitly communicate their intent via verbal messages.

Elaborate Style: Mode of speaking which emphasizes rich expressive language.

Ethnic Identity: The degree to which a person identifies, associates, and empathizes with his/her ethnic group. Often times this is accomplished and recognized via language use.

Exacting Style: Manner of speaking where persons say no more or less than is needed to communicate a point.

Generative Grammar: The idea that from a finite set of , rules, a speaker of any language can create or generate a countably infinite number of sentences, many of which have never before been uttered.

Iconic Semblances: Signs that visually represent their referent to some degree, as in a map or photograph.

Indirect Style: Manner of speaking wherein the intentions of the speakers are hidden or only hinted at during interaction.

Instrumental Style: Sender focused manner of speaking that is goal and outcome oriented. Instrumental speakers "use" communication to achieve some goal or purpose.

Language: A systematic set of sounds, combined with a set of rules, for the sole purpose of communicating.

Morpheme: Smallest meaningful unit of sound: a combination of phonemes.

Personal Style: Manner of speaking relying on the use of personal pronouns that stresses informality and symmetrical power relationships.

Phoneme: Smallest unit of sound, as in a consonant or vowel.

Proper Symbols: Specific stimuli that names reality. The word "cat" is a proper symbol for a specific type of animal.

Restricted Code: A cultural context wherein the speakers of a language are limited as to what they can say or do verbally. A restricted code is a status oriented system.

Ritual Semblances: Exaggerated symptoms, such as begging or acts of submission.

Succinct Style: Manner of very concise speaking often accompanied by silence.

Symbol: Arbitrarily selected and learned stimulus representing something else.

Symptoms: Fixed, hard wired reactions to environmental stimuli, such as pupil dilation, blushing, or piloerection.

Syntactic Symbols: Symbols that express grammatical relationships for other symbols, such as possession or tense.

Universal Grammar: The idea that all languages share a common rule structure or grammar that is innate in human beings, regardless of culture.

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Chapter 8: The Nonverbal Code

Adaptors: Mostly unconscious nonverbal actions that satisfy physiological or psychological needs such as scratching an itch.

Affect Displays: Nonverbal presentations of emotion, primarily communicated through facial expressions.

Chronemics: The perception and use of time.

Emblems: Primarily hand gestures that have a direct verbal translation. Can be used to repeat or substitute for verbal communication.

Haptics: Nonverbal communication via physical contact or touch.

Illustrators: Primarily hand and arm movements that function to accent or complement speech.


Kinesics: General category of body motion, including emblems, illustrators, affect displays, and adaptors.

Nonverbal Expectancy Violations Theory: Theory that posits that people hold expectations about the nonverbal behavior of others. When these expectations are violated, people evaluate the violation positively or negatively depending on the source of the violation.

Olfactics: The perception and use of smell, scent, and odor.

Paralanguage: Characteristics of the voice such as pitch, rhythm, intensity, volume, and rate.

Proxemics: The perception and use of space, including territoriality and personal space.

Regulators: Nonverbal acts that manage and govern communication between people, such as stance, distance, eye contact, etc.

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Chapter 9: Developing Intercultural Relationships

Arranged Marriage: Marriage that is initiated and negotiated by a third party, other than the bride and groom.

Assertiveness: An individual's ability to make requests, actively disagree, and express positive or negative personal rights and feelings.

Polyandry: The practice of having multiple husbands.

Polygamy: The practice of having multiple spouses.

Polygyny: The practice of having multiple wives.

Relational Empathy: Shared meaning and harmonization that is the outcome or result of the interaction of two people.

Responsiveness: An individual's ability to be sensitive to the communication of others, including providing feedback, comforting communication, and listening.

Socio Communicative Style: Degree of assertiveness and responsiveness during communication.

Third Culture: That which is created when a dyad consisting of persons from different cultures come together and establish relational empathy.

Uncertainty: The amount of predictability in a communication situation.

Uncertainty Reduction Theory: The major premise of this theory is that when strangers first meet, their primary goal is to reduce uncertainty.

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Chapter 10: Intercultural Communication in Organizations

Cultural Context: An accumulated pattern of values, beliefs, and behavior held by an identifiable group of people with a common verbal and nonverbal symbol system.

Environmental Context: The geographical and psychological location of communication within some cultural context.

Individual Level: Individual factors that facilitate conflict, including cognitive simplicity/rigidity, ingroup bias, insecurity/frustration, and divergent behaviors.

Intermediary Factors: Contextual or situational factors that facilitate conflict, including segregation/contact, intergroup salience, and status differentials.

Organizational Culture: An organized pattern of values, beliefs, behaviors, and communication channels held by the members of an organization.

Perceptual Context: The cognitive process by which persons gather, store, and retrieve information.

Power Distance: The extent to which less powerful members of a particular culture accept and expect that power within the culture will be distributed unequally.

Societal Factors: Factors that facilitate conflict, including a history of subjugation, structural inequities, and minority group strength.

Socio Relational Context: The roles that one assumes within a culture that are defined by verbal and nonverbal messages.

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Chapter 11 Acculturation & Culture Shock

Acculturation: The process of cultural change that results from ongoing contact between two or more culturally different groups.

Acculturative Stress: The anxiety and tension associated with acculturation.

Adjustment Phase: Third stage of culture shock characterized by where people actively seek out effective problem solving and conflict resolution strategies.

Cultural Transmutation: Mode of acculturation where the individual chooses to identify with a third cultural group (e.g., microculture) which materializes out of the native and host cultural groups.

Culture Shock: The effects associated with the tension and anxiety of entering into a new culture combined with the sensations of loss, confusion, and powerlessness resulting from the forfeiture of cultural norms and social rituals.

Integration: Mode of acculturation where the individual develops a kind of bicultural orientation which successfully blends and synthesizes cultural dimensions from both groups while maintaning an identity in each group.

Marginalization: Mode of acculturation where the individual prefers low levels of interaction with both the host and native cultures.

Re Entry Shock: The effects associated with the tension and anxiety of returning to one's native culture after an extended stay in a foreign culture.

Separation: Mode of acculturation whereby individuals prefer low levels of interaction with the host culture and associative micro cultural groups while desiring a close connection with and reaffirmation of their native culture.

Tourist Phase: Initial stage of culture shock characterized by an intense excitement and euphoria associated with being somewhere different and unusual.

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Chapter 12 Intercultural Competence

Affective Component: Approach avoidance tendencies during intercultural communication. The extent to which one experiences intercultural communication apprehension and one's willingness to communicate.

Intercultural Competence: The ability to adapt one's verbal and nonverbal messages to the appropriate cultural context.

Intercultural Willingness to Communicate: Predisposition to initiate intercultural interaction with persons from different cultures even when completely free to choose whether or not to communicate

Knowledge Component: The extent of one's awareness of another's culture's values etc. Also the extent to which one is cognitively simple, rigid, and ethnocentric.

Psychomotor Features: The extent to which one can translate cultural knowledge into appropriate verbal and nonverbal performance and role enactment.

Situational Features: The extent to which the environmental context, previous contact, status differential and third party intervention affect one’s competence during intercultural communication.

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