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Western and Chinese Cross-Cultural Communication Case Study

Case Study Overview

The case study discusses the disparities that exist between the Western and Chinese ways of lives with regards to communication-based competence during conflict. In essence, the research views competence from two perspectives that include effectiveness and appropriateness. Importantly, it seeks to determine how the Western and Chinese people differ when it comes to communication during the times of conflict. In order to make the necessary conclusions, the researchers conducted a pilot study that involved thirty employees from Singapore.

This pilot study was meant to investigate communication appraisals with regards to cases of intercultural conflict. As part of the findings, the researchers discovered that the Westerners evaluate communication on the basis of whether it was direct and engaging in nature. As such, this evaluation is viewed as a measurement that is based on effectiveness. On the other hand, they noted that the Chinese evaluated the proficiency of communication from the interactional capabilities as well as the cultural understanding.

A follow-up research was conducted after the pilot study involving one hundred and twenty-eight Australian students as well as additional one hundred and eight Chinese university scholars (Brew, Tan, Booth, & Malik, 2011). In a nutshell, the research’s findings were consistent with the pilot study because they indicated that Chinese considered appropriateness more than effectiveness. The Chinese evaluation competence was found to dwell on improvement of interactional skills rather than direct communication.

However, the Australian students portrayed a reverse behavior because they value and apply direct communication as opposed to interaction-based engagement to resolve conflict. The general finding that accrued from this research indicated the people of different cultural backgrounds have diverse ways of defining proficient conflict-resolving communication. Importantly, the correlation existing between competence-based communication and interactive results evokes a new research interest regarding conflict resolution.

Definition and Example of Cross-Cultural Psychology

From the case study, it is evident that people from different cultural backgrounds perceive things differently. In essence, it was indicated that the basis for evaluating the competence and proficiency of societal aspects such as communication differs across cultures. As such, cross-cultural psychology can be defined as a body of knowledge that is concerned with how human beings adopt different behaviors and perception under different cultural conditions. In that case, it focuses on the invariance as well as variability of those behaviors across cultures.

One of the examples that have been exemplified in the case study relates the manner in which the Westerners and Chinese people interpret proficient communication. In the study, it was evident that the Westerners evaluate the proficiency of communication on the basis of whether it is direct and engaging in nature. On the other hand, the Chinese measure communication-based proficiency on the basis of whether the conflicting parties are capable of interacting effectively at a personal level in order to solve the prevalent conflict. As such, it is clear that the two cultures are focusing on the same aspect, which is proficient communication, but they measure it using different lenses and perspectives. In fact, the researchers provide a particular aspect that portrays the idea of cross-cultural psychology.

In this case, they stated that the use of avoidance as a style of conflict resolution apply in some culture effectively and fail in others. Particularly, the research indicates that avoidance works effectively in USA and its environs. However, the same technique cannot be applied in East Asia and the locations around it. In East Asia, it was indicated that the residents are more concerned about groups’ needs and interests rather than individual preferences. As such, the individualists can prefer avoidance in order to reduce the chance of creating obstacles along their path of success. On the other hand, collectivists find it difficult to avoid the underlying conflict since they need to interact and achieve as a group.

Relationship between Cultural and Cross-Cultural Psychology

There is a critical relationship between cultural and cross-cultural psychology as exemplified in the case study. In essence, a close evaluation of the case study shows that cultural psychology is a subset of the cross-cultural behavioral system. Whereas cross-cultural psychology seeks to study how the behaviors vary across the cultural realms, it cannot exist without the prevalence of cultural behaviors. In other words, a researcher can only study cross-cultural variances if the individual cultures exhibit the focused behaviors. For example, a psychologist cannot venture to study the variance of effective communication if the individual cultures do not engage in communication. As such, there is very thin line between cultural and cross-cultural psychology because the latter is a component of the former.

Methodology Associated with Cross-Cultural Research

In accordance with the setting of this research, it is evident that the case study can be associated with the self-reporting method. Evidently, the study obtained data from a survey involving students from Chinese and Australian universities. As such, it cannot be disputed that self-reporting is the relevant method used to obtain data from the respondents. From a general perspective, self-reporting is used to outsource data using questionnaires (Marshall & Rossman, 2011). The questions are posed to the respondents in the same order to provide the same parameter of evaluating variances (Yin, 2009).

Insight into how Race, Ethnicity, World Views are Related

Having read the case study, it is clear that race, ethnicity, and worldviews are separate but also related concepts. The separation is based on the fact that people of different ethnicity, race, and world perspectives have different ways of evaluating societal factors such as communication. However, people of different ethnicity can hold similar opinions about a certain factor if they are from the same race. As such, the separation or convergence of the views is determined by the characteristic that affect the views at a point.

Enculturation and the Case

Enculturation is the mechanism by which individuals interact, learn, and adopt some behavioral aspects which are essentially necessary for their existence as a culture. As such, this process is very important to the case that has been presented concerning the Western and Chinese communication. Indeed, both techniques of evaluating communication are valid. As a result, people from both sides, which include Westerners and Chinese, should learn and adopt counterparts’ techniques in order to have a more effective way of measuring the proficiency of communication during conflict.


Brew, F., Tan, J., Booth, H., & Malik, I. (2011). The Effects of Cognitive Appraisals of Communication Competence in Conflict Interactions: A Study Involving Western and Chinese Cultures. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 42(5), 856-874.

Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. (2011). Designing qualitative research (5th ed.). Los Angeles, California: Sage.

Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: design and methods (4th ed.). Los Angeles, California: Sage.

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1. IvyPanda. "Western and Chinese Cross-Cultural Communication." July 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/western-and-chinese-cross-cultural-communication/.


IvyPanda. "Western and Chinese Cross-Cultural Communication." July 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/western-and-chinese-cross-cultural-communication/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Western and Chinese Cross-Cultural Communication." July 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/western-and-chinese-cross-cultural-communication/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Western and Chinese Cross-Cultural Communication'. 5 July.

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