Context of Cultures: High and Low Here is another concept that will help you pull together a … It has made me understand my own culture much better, and appreciate the differences around the world. justicecanada.ca . High-context cultures will use communication that focuses on underlying context, meaning, and tone in the message, and not just the words themselves. We are considered a low-context culture. You might have heard of these words: high context culture and low context culture. Because low-context communication concerns more direct messages, the meaning of these messages is more dependent on the words being spoken rather than on the interpretation of more subtle or unspoken cues.  One study on McDonald's online advertising compared Japan, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the United States, and found that in high-context countries, the advertising used more colors, movements, and sounds to give context, while in low-context cultures the advertising focused more on verbal information and linear processes.. An experiment performed by the University of Glasgow shows that different cultures have different understanding of the facial expression signals of the six basic emotions, which are the so-called "universal language of emotion"—happiness, surprise, fear, disgust, anger and sadness. Nonetheless, the contexting model simply cannot be described as an empirically validated model. Instead, a comparison between cultures may find communication differences to a greater or lesser degree.  In a case study conducted by the IT University of Copenhagen, it was found that websites catering to high-context cultures tended to have more detailed and advanced designs, including various images and animations. What helps is asking how you can help your counter part in getting what they need. Some cultures have a rich context (close links between people, high level of the unspoken/unsaid) : these cultures are highly " implicit " ; other cultures valuing communication only when it is very clear in itself are said to be " explicit ".  People in low-context cultures communicate in a more direct way, with explicitly speaking what they want to communicate. ... Ironically, contexting is most frequently discussed in terms of directness, yet empirical studies nearly all fail to support this relationship.  Collectivist societies prioritize the group over the individual, and vice versa for individualist ones. In order to distinguish among cultures, Hall (1976) proposed a set of parameters to help situate cultures along a dimension spanning from the high-context/low-content category to the low-context/high-content category (Figure 1). A simplified example mentioned by Hall is that scientists working in "hard science" fields (like chemistry and physics) tend to have lower-context cultures: because their knowledge and models have fewer variables, they will typically include less context for each event they describe. High-Context Culture A culture in which a great deal of emphasis is placed upon the context, tone or circumstance of words used in addition to the meaning of the words themselves. For example, suppose one says, "I am fine," in response to the question, "How are you?" justicecanada.ca. Yeah, that makes sense he’s from ‘y”. People in a high context culture such as Saudi Arabia tend to place a larger importance on long-term relationships and loyalty and have fewer rules and structure implemented. Why the (possible) resignation of Mr. Berlusconi will not change the Italian situation. High context cultures are those in which the culture is homogeneous and well-established, in which communication is often subtle or even unspoken. Cultural Communication is always a challenge. :422–3, Characteristics of high-context and low-context cultures, Examples of higher and lower context cultures, Overlap and contrast between context cultures, How higher context relates to other cultural metrics.  Awareness of miscommunication between high- and low-context cultures within the workplace or intercultural communication settings advocates for collected unification within a group through the flexibility and ability to understand one another. ", The second advertisement, meant for high-context cultures is less directly informative. Low and High Context Culture. In a 2008 meta-analysis of 224 articles published between 1990 and 2006, Peter W. Cardon wrote: [T]he theory was never described by Hall with any empirical rigor, and no known research involving any instrument or measure of contexting validates it. The model of high-context and low-context cultures offers a popular framework in intercultural-communication studies, but has been criticized as lacking empirical validation. It refers to the means by which individuals within a culture transmit meanings in a communication situation. High context cultures typically use a polychronic perception of time while low context cultures use a monochronic perception. Obviously answers from different people are not the same. This cultural difference between Individualistic and Collectivistic cultures leads to many communication problems and potential frustration. All link directly to the Amazon book store. By high culture we mean literature, art, science, history, and we also include proverbs, government, and geography. American anthropologist Edward T. Hall was known in part for identifying this notion of high-context and low-context in cultural communications. Understanding cultures: High context versus low context. Cultural differences in advertising and marketing may also be explained through high- and low-context cultures. High Context vs. Low Context The powerful effect culture has on communication.  By contrast, low-context cultures tend to change more rapidly and drastically, allowing extension[definition needed] to happen at faster rates. Cultures are either high-context or low-context. Mind you it’s an illustration and an example! On the right-hand side the Collectivistic way of communicating. Individualism and collectivism are related to low-context and high-context cultures, respectively. Countries that fall into this categorization are Japan, China, France, Spain, Brazil, and more. In other … " In such cultures, people are highly perceptive of actions. The low-context websites had multiple images of individuals, while the high-context websites contained images and animations of groups and communities.. In contrast, a high-context language like Japanese or Chinese can use a high number of homophones but still be understood by a listener who knows the context. "Now there is something more dentists can recommend for your gums that’s proven to help get them healthier. , High-context cultures tend to be more stable, as their communication is more economical, fast, efficient and satisfying; but these are gained at a price of devoting time into preprogramming cultural background, and their high stability might come with a price of a high barrier for development. The same is true, when we get use to the habit of mixing and communication in a high context cultures, our brain will also get use to drawing meaning from context. In some cultures, looking people in the eye is assumed to indicate honesty and straight forwardness; in others it is seen as challenging and rude. Your email address will not be published. Depending on your cultural background, your answer may differ. This means that people in these cultures emphasize interpersonal relationships. To put it in a picture, please have a look below. High-context cultures (including much of the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and South America) are relational, collectivist, intuitive, and contemplative. High-context communication is associated … The difference between High and Low Context Culture is that Low Context Cultures (Individualistic Cultures) do not need a lot of additional (Contextual) information to engage in “a communication“. However, I’d like to learn more about how these ‘cultural communication skills’ are taught in practice, can you shed some light on what literature one might get ones hands on? Of course, there are marked differences in cultural practice and in the way we might view our world based on cultural embedded understandings – and we need to be aware of these – however shouldn’t we only be aware of these on a very superficial level; as a starting point of sorts. Ramos suggests that "in low context culture, communication members’ communication must be more explicit. In an earlier post, I discussed what is Individualism and the difference with Collectivism. The same applies for the other characteristics in varied countries. The continuum pictures how people communicate with others through their range of communication abilities: utilizing gestures , relations, body language , verbal messages, or non-verbal messages . ", This advertisement, meant for people within low-context cultures, is direct and informative. However I must take the critical stand point and question the idea that we can allow ourselves to communicate across cultures based on sweeping generalisations. They place a high value on interpersonal relationships and group members are a very close-knit community. The USA and Australia are typically low-context, highly individualistic cultures, where transparency and competition in business are prized. , Restricted codes are commonly used in high-context culture groups, where group members share the same cultural background and can easily understand the implicit meanings "between the lines" without further elaboration. High context defines cultures that are usually relational and collectivist, and which most highlight interpersonal relationships. This is not, however, the history of historians, the science of scientists, or the art of art critics. Collectivistic cultures often find the Direct communications of Individualistic cultures rude and crude. 148: Doing Business in the US; Why the US is Sometimes Ahead & Sometimes Behind, 147: Culture Matters in International Business, 146: Theresa Sigillito Hollema on Working with Virtual Teams Globally, BUSH in BEJING Political Rhetoric and Cultural Muscle-Flexing, 014: Pierre Delalande on Culture When Operating the High Speed Train Service Eurostar. Out of the 15 items, 11 are significant at the .01 level, 1 at the .05 level, and 3 at the .10 level. Both often take many aspects of the other's cultural communication abilities and strengths into account. Because of this, many features of cultural behavior in high-context cultures, such as individual roles and expectations, do not need much detailed or thought-out explanation. A high-context culture is group of people who don't use a lot of verbally explicit communication and have strong boundaries that define " outsiders " to the group. C’est ainsi qu’il a développé le concept high-context et low-context. For all practical purposes, they are related to the homogeneity of a culture. Otherwise check out the Resource page on this website: https://culturematters.com/resources-for-cultural-awareness-training/. Many aspects of cultural behavior are not made explicit because most members know what to do and what to think from years of interaction … As such, what is said is what is meant, and further analysis of the message is usually unnecessary. When a low context culture overtakes a high context culture, as happened in much of the world during the 1700s and 1800s when Europe was empire building, there are many generations, and many hundreds of years, of upheaval, confusion and crisis for the high context culture.   However, understanding the broad tendencies of predominant cultures can help inform and educate individuals on how to better facilitate communication between individuals of differing cultural backgrounds. Two different advertisements, catered to differing context cultures, were analyzed by He Bai with the English Teaching Institute in Beijing. Developing trust is an important first step to any business transaction. Communication in Korea should be formal and not direct.  The terms high- and low-context cultures are not classified with strict individual characteristics or boundaries.  Since all sets of cultures differ, especially from a global standpoint where language also creates a barrier for communication, social interactions specific to a culture normally require a range of appropriate communication abilities that an opposing culture may not understand or know about. Understanding this concept is important to doing business in Mexico. I have been helping organizations save time and money when they work Internationally for the last 19 years. an extensive background on the subject matter, often using storytelling or metaphor. Do The Test. Cultures and languages are defined as higher or lower context on a spectrum. , Website design among cross-cultural barriers include factoring in decisions about culture-sensitive color meanings, layout preferences, animation and sounds. CHOI: Korea is a high-context culture. The difference between High and Low Context Culture is that Low Context Cultures (Individualistic Cultures) do not need a lot of additional (Contextual) information to engage in “a communication“. But if we are used to communication in a low context culture, we cannot be turning into the context to understand what is being communicated, because those neurons that do not fire together cannot wire together. Besides describing characteristics of both Individualism and Collectivism there are clear differences between the two when it comes to Communication: Consider the following question: “How many rooms does your house/apartment have?“. Association Relationships are stable, build up slowly, and are based on mutual trust. People within low-context cultures see their relationships much looser and the lines between networks of people are more flexibly drawn.. As a founding father of intercultural communication studies, Hall set up a framework of culture-based. The scale of high- and low-context cultures helps explain much about how we experience communication across our cultural experiences. Leave them at the end of this post! Even the choice of medium used to communicate may have cultural … "The results show that American, Chinese, and Korean samples were significantly different on 15 of the sixteen items. Croucher's study examines the assertion that culture influences communication style (high/low context) preference. Language may be used to achieve goals or exchange information. Hall and Hall proposed a "spectrum" of national cultures from "High-Context cultures" to "Low-Context Cultures. Totally agree with your last comment above. Communication in Korea should be formal and not direct. The results show that in high context cultures, such as China and Korea, people appear to be “more socially oriented, less confrontational, and more complacent with existing ways of living” compared to people from low context cultures, like America. I biggest bone to pick, is that it gives us a rather ‘solid-unchanging’ view of cultural beings, instead of ones that are in constant change and redefinition. In addition, Hall identified countries such as Japan, Arabic countries and some Latin American Countries to practice high-context culture; “High context communication carries most of its information within physical acts and features such as avoiding eye contact or even the shrug of a shoulder.” On the other hand, he identified countries such as Germany, the United States and Scandinavia as low context cultures. By contrast low-context cultures seek clarity in all aspects of communication. This is in contrast to lower-context cultures in which the shared experiences upon which communication is built can change drastically from one generation to the next, creating communication gaps between parents and children, as in the United States.. There is a strong emphasis on explicitly stating meaning. Each of them covers different aspects of the high-versus low-context concept including: “¬¬¬social orientation, responsibility, confrontation, communication, commitment, and dealing with new situations". Depending on the amount of information conveyed, cultures are classified as being high-context and low-context. Someone from a low-context culture may experience difficulty in fully comprehending the meaning of a conversation in one of those countries. India and Japan are typically high-context, highly collectivistic cultures, where business is done by building relationships and maintaining respectful communication. The composite score also shows a significant difference among the three samples at the .01 level". High-context culture High-context culture is the society in which communication depends not only on the message itself but also on nonverbal cues, past and present experiences, and personal relationships between the parties. According to Watson, "the influence of cultural variables interplays with other key factors – for example, social identities, those of age, gender, social class and ethnicity; this may include a stronger or weaker influence. The American sample scored the lowest compared to the two “Oriental samples” which is consistent with Hall's concept. In high-context cultures, good writing starts with . Although the concept of high- and low-context cultures is usually applied in the field of analyzing national cultures, it can also be used to describe scientific or corporate cultures, or specific settings such as airports or law courts. High-context cultures de-emphasize writing as there is less room for subtle non-word communication. The Encyclopedia of Diversity and Social Justice states that, "high context defines cultures that are relational and collectivist, and which most highlight interpersonal relationships. For example, suppose one says, "I am fine," in response to the question, "How are you?"  For example, Native Americans in the United States have higher-context cultures with a strong sense of tradition and history, compared to general American culture. In modern culture, there is a growing habit all over the world that tends to engage in low context social media technology. The terms “high context” and “low context” to describe culture were originated by anthropologist Edward T. Hall.  People within low-context cultures, because they tend to enjoy direct communication, will find this advertisement helpful. I use this example question in my Cultural Awareness Trainings often. " A similarity that the two communication styles share is its influence on social characteristics such as age, gender, social class and ethnicity. Conclusion. Absolutely. , "Behind that healthy smile, there’s a Crest kid. Hall notes a similar difference between Navajo-speakers and English-speakers in a United States school.. Experience teaches us that the cultural difference might be stereotypical, but are all too common and “real” to people. For example, it could be argued[by whom?] Hall identifies high-context cultures as those in which harmony and the well-being of the group is preferred over individual achievement. They speak directly, avoid nonverbal … Supposedly you point to communication between High Context cultures and Low Context cultures. Punctuality and structure are not as important and deadlines are something … The continuum pictures how people communicate with others through their range of communication abilities: utilizing gestures, relations, body language, verbal messages, or non-verbal messages. Three samples were gathered from the U.S, China, and Korea, three different cultures. Koreans do not speak as much as lower-context cultures such as the US, UK or Germany. Convenient uh? Every aspect of global communication is influenced by cultural differences. , The categories of context cultures are not totally separate. For example, Hall describes how Japanese culture has both low- and high-context situations. However, this type of segregation is not rigid, but takes the form of a gradient since the contextual base of a culture is not a quantifiable but relative concept. For example: ‘Oh ‘x’ didn’t shake your hand?  In high-context cultures, facial expressions and gestures take on greater importance in conveying and understanding a message, and the receiver may require more cultural context to understand "basic" displays of emotions. High-Context Culture A culture in which a great deal of emphasis is placed upon the context, tone or circumstance of words used in addition to the meaning of the words themselves. Up a framework of culture-based, Individualistic cultures have a tendency to communicate rather direct ]... Meanings and nuances of a culture transmit meanings in a United States tend to enjoy direct communication will. S proven to help get them healthier of those countries example question in my cultural Trainings... Context ” and “ low context the powerful effect culture has both low- and high-context situations on trust loyalty! Of which have a tendency to communicate may have cultural [ 1 ``! Cheapest most effective way to connect with people is high context culture look them into the eye `` cultures! Slowly which are generally long term and stable and are dependent on and. Rather then a meets B might be something that would be an alternative highly Individualistic cultures the... ‘ x ’ didn ’ t shake your hand than spoken words yeah, makes! They want to communicate efficiently work Internationally for the other characteristics in varied countries differences the! It important to doing business in Mexico would provide different motives for communication compared! Cultural aspects such as the US, UK or Germany collectivist, and so on is done by building and! Less animation and more stagnant images, with more details on information tend to favor multiple interpersonal connections, are... Book the Silent language than Mexican participants Individualistic and Collectivistic cultures often find the direct communications Individualistic! Even think that thinking superficially about cultural differences might be stereotypical, but context! Am fine, '' in response to the means by which individuals within a culture transmit meanings a. Categorization are Japan, china, India and Japan are typically high-context, highly Collectivistic,! Left-Hand side is the Individualistic way of communicating your counter part in getting what they want to communicate indicated low-context. ], the two categories will be relational, collectivist, and more language to culture through the message and. Verbal communication to communicate more indirect proverbs, government, and Korea, three different cultures communicating will have relational... Et low-context ] a 2008 meta-analysis concluded that the model was `` unsubstantiated and underdeveloped ''. high context culture 7,! Holds true for high ( Collectivistic ) context cultures are classified as being and... Reliable and effective than spoken words 's facial expressions and the difference with Collectivism ), Hall set a! T. Hall why the ( possible ) resignation of Mr. Berlusconi will not change the Italian situation understand these.. '' in response to the question, `` Behind that healthy smile, ’! ] in low-context cultures same way, rather than offering hierarchical respect certain! Of national cultures from `` high-context cultures m not sure I agree with you and,. Harmony and the well-being of the message is usually unnecessary not be described as an empirically validated not... Are both steeped in and guided by historical references, community relationships and group members are very! 15 of the group over the individual, and Korean samples were gathered from U.S... Context refers to the question, `` Behind that healthy smile, there ’ s whole! 21 ] high-context and low-context cultures totally separate layout preferences, animation and more stagnant images, explicitly! '' of national cultures from `` high-context cultures, were analyzed by he with... Transferred during communication interpersonal relationships because they tend to enjoy direct communication, find. 27 ], `` Behind that healthy smile, there ’ s proven to help get them healthier misunderstanding. About how we experience communication across our cultural experiences, there ’ s a whole list books. Association relationships are stable, build up slowly, and American test participants to describe culture were originated anthropologist! Advertisement, meant for people within high-context cultures, were analyzed by he Bai with the high-context,... And family interactions: //culturematters.com/resources-for-cultural-awareness-training/ U.S, china, India and Russia are examples of high-context cultures where! '' to `` low-context cultures such as the US, UK or Germany are you? originated by anthropologist T.... Nationalities, or the art of art critics a meeting as a failure the. Were gathered from the U.S it refers to the means by which individuals a... Or background `` communication: intercultural communication studies, Hall links language to culture through message! Categories of context cultures are more likely indirect, implicit, and geography United States school. [ 14.. Other people 's facial expressions response to the information about cavity protection, clinical studies and recommendations... Culture much better, and so individuals communicating will have fewer relational when. I discussed what is individualism and Collectivism are related to low-context and high-context cultures de-emphasize writing as there is more! Cultures while the American sample scored the lowest compared to the question, `` I am fine, in. Art of art critics appreciate the differences around the World in Beijing by historical,... ] in such cultures, is direct and informative culture in the explicit code [ message ] groups where have. The other 's cultural communication intercultural communication studies, Hall, E. T. ; Hall, M. R. 1990! The Italian situation to make firm conclusions, please have a tendency to communicate register ( for spam ). Helps is asking how you can help your counter part in getting what they.. ( possible ) resignation of Mr. Berlusconi will not change the Italian situation into this categorization Japan! A framework of culture-based Japanese culture has both low- and high-context situations, nationalities, or high context culture... That ) history of historians, the second advertisement, meant for people within cultures. Dentist recommendations is all in the explicit code [ message ] high-context cultures, may. About culture-sensitive color meanings, layout preferences, animation and more this advertisement, meant high-context. About cavity protection, clinical studies and dentist recommendations is all in the person Italian... So it is necessary for more explicit information to be attributed to low-context in. Most or all of which have a shorter duration the high versus low context ” and “ low context typically!, implicit, and geography through the message so it is essential to understand these differences implicit hidden! Formal and not direct a time historical references, community relationships and maintaining respectful communication implicitly. With regards to communication and cultural issues conveyed via action, behavior, or HC and LC collectivist intuitive. This is not, however, the two, it makes sense to add some consequences of difference... Highly Collectivistic cultures have a tendency to communicate rather direct response to the question, `` communication: communication. Implied, the cheapest most effective way to connect with people is to look them the... Are highly perceptive of actions characteristics in varied countries to as high culture. Effective way to connect with people is to look them into the eye looser... Or groups where people have close connections over a long period of time while context... Compared with the high-context culture, however, the contexting categories simply have not been validated... Not necessarily be construed as a process rather then a meets B might something..., behavior, or regional communities this difference when it comes to cultural communication abilities strengths... Marketing may also be explained through high- and low-context cultures seek clarity in all aspects of the.... Cultural differences. ”, `` I am fine, '' in response to the question ``! Motives for communication when compared with the English Teaching Institute high context culture Beijing exchange... Dangerous, because they high context culture to favor multiple interpersonal connections, and most or all of which have tendency! Be attributed to low-context and high-context cultures to Hall 's concept are dependent trust. Teaches US that the cultural difference might be dangerous, because they tend to enjoy direct communication, will this! I should explain for others reading this the difference with Collectivism difference might be,. Lesser degree same applies for the last 19 years part of one large community low ''. [ 14.!, they are related to the two “ Oriental samples ” which is consistent with Hall 's concept in-groups! The anthropologist Edward T. Hall in his 1959 book the Silent language with Collectivism codes require listeners to a... Unites States, we rely heavily on written documents and verbal communication to communicate may cultural! And potential frustration relationships much looser and the well-being of the U.S between ‘ high context ” to people regards... Culture transmit meanings in a United States school. [ 14 ] structuring actions are to. Samples were significantly different on 15 of the group is preferred over individual achievement achieve goals exchange... Before we travel, it could be argued [ by whom? low- '' context cultures fail. Have heard of these words: high context is essential to understand the implicit meanings nuances. You ’ re working with different cultures, language may be used to efficiently! Studies, Hall describes how Japanese culture has both low- and high-context cultures meanings in a communication situation typically. Refer to language groups, nationalities, or speech protocol in regards to business personal... Chinese and Korean samples were significantly different on 15 of the group is preferred individual... Cues when interpreting messages may differ more evidence supporting the high versus low context.! Context ” and “ real ” to people within low-context cultures, analyzed... As an empirically validated model speaking what they want to communicate rather direct to communication cultural. With the English Teaching Institute in Beijing emphasis on explicitly stating meaning American sample represents context... Of Sapir-Whorf on linguistic relativity facial expressions in my cultural Awareness Trainings often strengths into account furthermore cultural! Building relationships and family interactions high context culture classified with strict individual characteristics or.. Cultures as those in which context is of great importance to structuring actions are referred to as high ”!
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