Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts


  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    • 1.1: Why Study Intercultural Communication?
      We live in a rapidly changing world with larger forces driving us to interact with others who are culturally different from ourselves. It would be easy to be overcome by the complexities of the things that you do not know or understand about another culture, but regardless of who we are communicating with, one fact is important to remember: the communication choices we make determine the personal, national, and international outcomes that follow.
    • 1.2: Communication Principles and Process
      Most of us admit that communication is important, but it’s often in the back of our minds or viewed as something that “just happens.” Putting communication at the front of your mind and becoming more aware of how you communicate can be informative and have many positive effects. In this section, as we learn the principles of communication.
    • 1.3: Cultural Characteristics and the Roots of Culture
      Carbaugh suggested that culture is “a learned set of shared interpretations and beliefs, values, and norms, which affect the behaviors of a relatively large group of people.” Our course will combine Carbaugh’s longer definitions into the statement that culture is a learned pattern of values, beliefs, and behaviors shared by a large group of people. It is within this framework that we will explore what happens when people from different cultural backgrounds interact.
    • 1.4: Self and Identity
      To understand our communication interactions with others, we must first understand ourselves. Although each of us experiences ourselves as a singular individual, our sense of self is actually made up of three separate, yet integrated components: self-awareness, self-concept, and self-esteem.
    • 1.5: Verbal Communication
      How do you communicate? How do you think? We use language as a system to create and exchange meaning with one another, and the types of words we use influence both our perceptions and others interpretation of our meanings. Language is one of the more conspicuous expressions of culture. Aside from the obvious differences, vocabularies are actually often built on the cultural experiences of the users.
    • 1.6: Nonverbal Communication
      People may not understand your words, but they will certainly interpret your nonverbal communication according to their accepted norms. Notice the word their. It is their perceptions that will count when you are trying to communicate, and it’s important to understand that those perceptions will be based on the teachings and experiences of their culture—not yours.
    • 1.7: Relationships
      We establish and maintain relationships through our communication with each other. Although the term “relationship” is often associated with romance, intercultural relationships can be as varied as the people within them. Colleagues performing a work-related task can develop a friendship. Marrying into a family creates strong familial ties. Eating at the same family-run restaurant each week builds loyalty. Good friends are always treasured.
    • 1.8: Conflict
      Just as there is no consensus across cultures about what constitutes a conflict or how the conflicting events should be framed, there are also many different conflict response theories. It is also a topic of interest for sociologists, psychologists, business managers, educators, and communities. Acquiring knowledge about personal and intercultural conflict styles can hopefully help us transform conflicts into meaningful dialogue, and become better communicators in the process.
    • 1.9: Pop Culture
      Some of us may be very selective in our consumption of popular culture, but it’s difficult to find someone who has not been touched by popular culture at all. The most common forms of popular culture are movies, music, television, video games, sports, entertainment news, fashion, and various forms of technology. No matter what nation you are a citizen of, you have been impacted by the economic and social impact of popular culture.
    • 1.10: Tourism
      Tourism is one of the world’s largest and most complex industries. In today’s world, there are many ways to be a tourist, and all of them are being impacted by new media. Tourism is not without costs to political structures and the environment. At its best, tourism is a useful tool to share, sustain, and improve cultural diversity. At its worst, tourism can destroy a community and a culture. The reality of tourism is much more complicated than just taking a vacation.
    • 1.11: Business
      Culture matters. We must understand the concept of culture and its characteristics so we can appreciate the impact of our specific cultural background on our own mindset and behavior, as well as those of colleagues and customers. According to Hirsch (1987), business literacy requires more than knowing how to read, it also requires a certain level of comprehension of background information about the culture.
    • 1.12: Education
      While educational institutions can be places of international, interracial, and intercultural contact, these contacts do not necessarily lead to increased intercultural competence. Students “who see culture as a barrier tend to deny, resist, or minimize differences” while “those who see culture as a resource tend to accept and appreciate difference” (Martin & Nakayama, 2011).
    • 1.13: Health Care
      In today’s culturally diverse world, intercultural communication is becoming increasingly important. For many businesses, effective intercultural communication can mean increased profits and business opportunities, but in the healthcare industry, effective intercultural communication can impact a patients’ physical or mental well-being (Voelker, 1995), as well as their quality of life.
    • 1.14: Conclusion
      My goal with this book was first, and foremost, to make studying intercultural communication in college more affordable for students, but once the course has been completed, my hope is that you continue to grow in cultural humility while creating your own gracious space in which to learn. Intercultural communication is a life skill that I hope that you will continually build upon as you meet new people and find yourself in new situations. I hope that you find joy in the journey.

    Chapters is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Karen Krumrey-Fulks.

    • Was this article helpful?