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Understanding Intercultural Communication

Third Edition

Stella Ting-Toomey and Leeva Chung

Publication Date - July 2021

ISBN: 9780190297442

416 pages
7 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

Modern, engaging, and fun to read-even for the most hesitant students.


Understanding Intercultural Communication, 3rd Edition (UIC3) emphasizes a perspective that integrates intersectional identity complexity with a strong values orientation in shaping intercultural contact. We address contemporary issues such as the important roles and effects of technology in our everyday intercultural lives. This is an introductory book designed for undergraduate students, teachers, and practitioners searching for a user-friendly textbook on the fundamentals of intercultural communication. With the lens of flexible intercultural communication, we thread through an abundance of intercultural material with a very practical theme. By integrating current empirical research with lively intercultural examples, the authors ask thought-provoking questions and pose ethical dilemmas for students to ponder.

New to this Edition

  • New opening stories (a favorite of many of the students and teachers) in several chapters
  • Emphasis on the importance of adaptability and creativity in cultivating intercultural communication flexibility in this globally turbulent, changing time
  • An abundance of contemporary intercultural stories, news clips, and real-life diversity experiences to connect and resonate with the students through which we encourage them to share their stories and identity struggles, challenges, resilience, and triumphs
  • Thought-provoking end-point discussion and practical application questions for students and teachers to generate productive dialogue about flexible (or inflexible) intercultural communication practice as lifelong learners of all things intercultural


  • UIC3 is written for students to increase appreciation, knowledge, and skills about intercultural communication.
  • Well-balanced focus on both global/intercultural communication issues and U.S. domestic diversity issues.
  • The pedagogical approach to this book emphasizes a student-empowering philosophy which invites curiosity and motivation to learn more about intercultural communication.
  • Calls attention throughout the text to the important role of technology in affecting intercultural communication message exchange and meaning construction processes.

About the Author(s)

Stella Ting-Toomey is Professor of Human Communication Studies at California State University, Fullerton.
Leeva C. Chung is Professor at the University of San Diego.

Table of Contents

    About the Authors

    Chapter 1 Why Study Intercultural Communication?
    Six Practical Reasons to Study Intercultural Communication
    The Impact of Technology on Everyday Intercultural Communication
    The Global and Domestic Diversity Workforce
    The "New Norm": Nontraditional Interpersonal Relationships (Relationship Development, Families, and Identity Complexity)
    Global Health Care Concerns and Opportunities
    Personal Empowerment, Social Advocacy, and Social Justice
    Inclusivity Reason: Increasing Self-Awareness and Other-Sensitivity
    Culture: A Learned Meaning System
    Surface-Level Culture: Artifacts and Pop Culture
    Intermediate-Level Culture: Symbols, Meanings, and Norms
    Deep-Level Culture: Traditions, Beliefs, and Values
    Updating Your (Virtual) Intercultural Passport
    Discussion and Practical Application Questions

    Chapter 2 What Is Intercultural Communication Flexibility?
    Defining Intercultural Communication: A Process Model
    Intercultural Communication Process: Overall Characteristics
    Intercultural Communication: Meaning Construction Characteristics
    Cultivating Intercultural Communication Flexibility
    Three Content Components: Knowledge, Attitude, and Skills
    Three Criteria: Appropriateness, Effectiveness, and Adaptability
    Practicing Intercultural Communication Competence
    A Staircase Model
    An Essential Hook: A Mindful Perspective
    Deepening Intercultural Process Thinking and Outcome Goals
    Process Consciousness: Underlying Principles
    Movements Toward Outcome Goals
    Intercultural Reality Check: Doables
    Discussion and Practical Application Questions

    Chapter 3 What Are the Essential Cultural Value Patterns?
    Functions of Cultural Values
    Analyzing Cultural Values
    Identity Meaning Function
    Ingroup-Outgroup Evaluative Function
    Explanatory Function
    Motivational Function
    Analyzing Cultural Value Continuum Dimensions
    Discovering Cultural Continuum Values
    Identity: Individualism-Collectivism Value Dimension
    Power: Small-Large Power Distance Value Dimension
    Uncertainty: Weak-Strong Uncertainty Avoidance Value Dimension
    Sex Roles: Feminine-Masculine Value Dimension
    Understanding Personality Styles and Value Tendencies
    Independent Self-Construal Versus Interdependent Self-Construal
    Horizontal Versus Vertical Personality Style
    Uncertainty-Oriented Versus Certainty-Oriented Attributes
    Androgynous Versus Conventional Sex Role Dispositions
    Cultural Values Connecting With Personality Styles and Social Situations
    Additional Classical Value Orientation Patterns
    Value Orientations: Background Information
    Meaning: Activity Value Orientation
    Destiny: People-Nature Value Orientation
    Time: Temporal Value Orientation
    Intercultural Reality Check: Doables
    Discussion and Practical Application Questions

    Chapter 4 What Are the Keys to Understanding Cultural and Ethnic Identities?
    Family and Gender Socialization
    Families Come in Different Shapes
    Gender Socialization and Interaction Patterns
    Group Membership: Intercultural Boundary-Crossing Factors
    The Process of Acculturation and Enculturation
    Systems-Level Factors
    Individual-Level Factors
    Interpersonal Face-to-Face and Relational Network Factors
    Mass Media and Social Media Usage Factors
    Intergroup Adaptive Strategies
    Sociocultural Group Affiliation and Identity Formation
    Conceptualizing Cultural Identity
    Conceptualizing Ethnic Identity
    Ethnic-Racial Identity Change Process
    Cultural-Ethnic Identity Typological Model
    Racial-Ethnic Identity Development Model
    Identity Complexity
    Multiracial and Biracial Identity
    Intercultural Reality Check: Doables
    Discussion and Practical Application Questions

    Chapter 5 What Is Culture Shock?

    Unpacking Culture Shock
    Characteristics of Culture Shock
    Pros and Cons of Culture Shock
    Culture Shock Encounters: A Variety of Culture Shockers
    International Students and Cultural Exchange Students
    Global Workplace Transferees and Global Mobility Families
    Third Culture Kids/Global Nomads (TCK/GN)
    International Tourists as Short-Term Sojourners
    Initial Tips to Manage Culture Shock
    Culture Shock Factors, Adjustment Approaches, and Strategies
    Motivational Orientations and Personal Expectations
    Cultural Distance Factors and Two Adjustment Approaches
    Initial Cultural Adjustment, New Media, and Social Support
    Cultural Adjustment Competence Strategies
    Personality Attributes
    Intercultural Adjustment: Developmental Patterns
    The U-Curve Adjustment Model
    The Revised W-Shaped Adjustment Model
    Culture Shock Adjustment Summary: Peaks and Valleys
    Reentry Culture Shock
    Reentry Culture Shock: Surprising Elements
    “Where Is Home?”
    Intercultural Reality Check: Doables
    Discussion and Practical Application Questions

    Chapter 6 What Is the Connection Between Verbal Communication and Culture?
    Human Language: Distinctive Features and Rule Patterns
    Distinctive Language Features: Arbitrariness, Abstractness, Meaning-Centeredness, and Creativity
    Multiple Rule Patterns: Phonological, Morphological, Syntactic, Semantic, and Pragmatic Rules
    Appreciating Diverse Language Functions
    Cultural Group Membership Identity Function
    Everyday Social Reality Function
    Worldview Reasoning Function
    Perceptual Filtering Function
    Social Change Function
    Verbal Communication Styles: A General Framework
    Defining Low-Context and High-Context Interaction Patterns
    Direct and Indirect Verbal Variation Styles
    Compact and Verbose Interaction Styles
    Self-Enhancement and Self-Humbling Verbal Styles
    Status-Equality and Status-Sensitive Respectful Styles
    Intercultural Reality Check: Doables
    Discussion and Practical Application Questions

    Chapter 7 What Are the Different Ways to Communicate Nonverbally Across Cultures?
    The Impact of Nonverbal Communication
    Comparisons of Verbal and Nonverbal Cues
    Cross-Cultural Nonverbal Display Rules
    Nonverbal Display Preferences Across the Digital Divide
    One Code, Countless Interpretations
    Functions and Forms of Nonverbal Communication
    Forming Initial Impressions and Attraction
    Expressing Emotions and Attitudes: Kinesics and Paralanguage
    Managing Conversation with Hand Gestures and More
    Reflecting Sociocultural Membership Identities
    Regulating Spatial and Temporal Boundaries
    Asserting and Defending Spatial Boundaries: Proxemics and Haptics
    Environmental Boundary Effects
    Cross-Cultural Psychological Boundaries
    Monitoring and Regulating Time: Chronemics
    Intercultural Reality Check: Doables
    Discussion and Practical Application Questions

    Chapter 8 What Causes Us to Hold Biases Against Outgroups?

    Human Perception Tendencies: Some General Principles
    Selective Attention
    Selective Organization and Labeling
    Selective Interpretation
    Biased Intergroup Filters: Ethnocentrism and Stereotypes
    Ethnocentrism and Communication
    Stereotypes and Communication
    Stereotypes: We Are What We Watch
    Marking Ingroup/Outgroup Membership Boundaries
    Us Versus Them
    Group Membership Struggles
    Intergroup Attribution Biases
    Shattered Lens: Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism
    Prejudice: Multiple Explanations and Functions
    Different Types of Racism
    Power, Privilege, and Microaggression
    Reduction of Prejudice and Discrimination
    Intercultural Reality Check: Doables
    Discussion and Practical Application Questions

    Chapter 9 How Can We Manage Intercultural Conflict Flexibly?
    Intercultural Conflict: Cultural Background Factors
    Culture-Based Conflict Lenses
    Intercultural Workplace Conflict Grid
    Intercultural Conflict Perceptions
    Intercultural Conflict Goal Issues
    Perceived Scarce Resources
    Intercultural Conflict Process Factors
    Conflict Face-Negotiation Theory: A Brief Introduction
    Defining Conflict Styles: Different Viewpoints
    Cross-Cultural Conflict Communication Styles
    Cross-Ethnic Conflict Styles and Facework
    Developing Intercultural Conflict Competence and Skillsets
    Applying Intercultural Conflict Competence
    Facework Management Skills
    Mindful Listening Skills
    Mindful Reframing Skills
    Adaptive Code-Switching Conflict Skills
    Intercultural Reality Check: Doables
    Discussion and Practical Application Questions

    Chapter 10 What Are the Challenges in Developing an Intercultural-Intimate Relationship?
    Developing Intercultural Relationships: Invisible Challenges
    Cultural-Ethnic Membership Values
    Anxiety/Uncertainty Interaction Management
    Love Attitudes and Expectations
    Voluntary Commitment and Structural Commitment
    Intercultural Relationship Attraction: Facilitating Factors
    Perceived Physical Attractiveness
    Perceived Attitudinal Similarity
    Cross-Cultural Self-Disclosure Comparisons
    Online Relationship Development, Attraction, and Disclosure
    Intercultural-Intimate Conflict: Stumbling Blocks
    Intercultural Romantic Relationship Development
    Encountering Prejudice and Racism
    Countering with Coping Strategies
    Relational Transgressions and Cross-Cultural Responses
    Raising Secure Bicultural Children
    Bicultural and Interfaith Identity Planning
    Developing a Secure Multifaceted Identity
    Intercultural Reality Check: Doables
    Discussion and Practical Application Questions

    Chapter 11 Why Does Global Identity Matter?
    Wired and Ready! The Allure of the Internet
    Wired-up and Swipe-Ready
    The Internet Is Our Central Station
    "Glocal" Living: Here to Stay
    Local and Global Identities
    The Entertainment Culture and Identity Sculpting
    Through the Lens of Television: Global Watching
    Through the Lens of Streaming
    Are You Playing Together?: Video Gaming
    Can You Feel the Beat?
    Fashion, Influencers, and Fandomania
    Living in the Intersection: E.net'ers
    Defining the Characteristics of an E.net'er
    An E.net'er Identity: Push-and-Pull Dialectics
    Spatial Zone Dialectics
    Temporal Zone Dialectics
    On the Edge: Dynamic Changes in Communication Patterns
    App Gadgets: Flipping Fast and Furious
    Virtual . . . But Present?
    The Ambiguous Selfie Face
    Communication Advocacy and Social Change
    Intercultural Reality Check: Doables
    Discussion and Practical Application Questions

    Chapter 12 How Can We Become Ethical Intercultural Communicators?
    Intercultural Communication Ethics: Cultural Clash Issues
    Global Collision and Local Justice Expectation
    Corporate Responsibility and Workplace Ethical Questions
    Value Clash and Universalistic-Particularistic Ethical Decisions
    Multiple Ethical Positions: Assessing Pros and Cons
    Ethical Absolutism Position
    Ethical Relativism Position
    Derived Ethical Universalism Position
    Meta-Ethics Contextualism Position
    Becoming Ethical Intercultural Communicators
    Cultivating an Ethical Mindset and Questions to Consider
    Promoting Global Social Justice and a Moral Inclusion Stance
    Nurturing Intercultural-Intergroup Peace-Building Practices
    Fostering Adaptive Flexibility: Final Passport Doables
    In Conclusion . . .
    Discussion and Practical Application Questions

    Author Index
    Subject Index

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