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Understanding Intercultural Communication

Second Edition

Stella Ting-Toomey and Leeva C. Chung

Publication Date - November 2011

ISBN: 9780199739790

352 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $99.95

Employing the dynamic theme of flexible intercultural communication, Understanding Intercultural Communication, Second Edition, expertly bridges the gap between theory and practice.


Written in a conversational style, this book introduces students to the foundations of intercultural communication, a vibrant discipline within the field. Authors Stella Ting-Toomey and Leeva Chung take a multicontextual, inclusive approach that balances international and intercultural communication issues against U.S. domestic diversity issues. In addition to emphasizing a value-oriented perspective on intercultural encounters, the text contains a robust ethical chapter, complete with specific guidelines that will help students become ethical intercultural communicators.

By integrating current empirical research with lively intercultural examples, the authors ask thought-provoking questions and pose ethical dilemmas for students to ponder. The text offers a sprawling treatment of such topics as ethnic and cultural identity change, culture shock and intercultural adjustment, romantic relationships and raising bicultural children, global identity challenges, and decision-making choices in intercultural ethics.

New to this Edition

  • Two new special features, "Blog Pic" and "Blog Post," which update all the photos and poignant personal stories found throughout the first edition
  • A greater focus on the impact of technology on intercultural communication message exchange processes
  • An updated discussion of multiracial and biracial identity in Chapter 4
  • Updates to the popular "Jeopardy Boxes"
  • More than 250 new references
  • "Live-chat," a special boxed feature, which emphasizes the importance of adaptive code-switching in managing intercultural misunderstanding via lively dialogue

About the Author(s)

Stella Ting-Toomey is Professor of Human Communication Studies at California State University, Fullerton.

Leeva C. Chung is Professor of Communication Studies at the University of San Diego.

Previous Publication Date(s)

September 2004


"One of the best undergraduate textbooks in intercultural communication."--Kenneth C.C. Yang, University of Texas at El Paso

"Provides a good balance between the serious and fun aspects of studying intercultural communication. I particularly like the way the book has questions as chapter titles to introduce the more formal study of the field. The book provides more comprehensive coverage of the major concepts of intercultural communication than the competition."--Susan Opt, Salem College

"This is an excellent text when teaching large lecture sections. The concepts are designated within the text in a way that the students can pick them out and know what it is that they are expected to study for exams."--Marcella La Fever,California State Stanislaus

Table of Contents

    Dedication Page
    About the Authors

    Part One: Fundamental Concepts in Intercultural Communication

    1: Why Study Intercultural Communication?

    Practical Reasons to Study Intercultural Communication
    Adjusting to Global Workplace Heterogeneity
    Adapting to Domestic Workforce Diversity
    Engaging in Creative Multicultural Problem Solving
    Comprehending the Role of Technology in Global Communication
    Facilitating Better Multicultural Health Care Communication
    Enhancing Intercultural Relationship Satisfaction
    Fostering Global and Intrapersonal Peace
    Deepening Cultural Self-Awareness and Other-Awareness

    Culture: A Learned Meaning System
    Surface-Level Culture: Popular Culture
    Intermediate-Level Culture: Symbols, Meanings, and Norms
    Deep-Level Culture: Traditions, Beliefs, and Values

    Stamping Your Intercultural Passport

    2: What Is Intercultural Communication Flexibility?

    Defining Intercultural Communication: A Process Model
    Intercultural Communication Process: Overall Characteristics
    Intercultural Communication: Meaning Characteristics

    Practicing Intercultural Communication Flexibility
    Three Content Components: Knowledge, Attitude, and Skills
    Three Criteria: Appropriateness, Effectiveness, and Adaptability

    Developing Intercultural Communication Flexibility
    A Staircase Model
    An Essential Hook: A Mindful Perspective

    Deepening Intercultural Process Thinking
    Process Consciousness: Underlying Principles

    Intercultural Reality Check: Do-Ables

    3: What Are the Essential Cultural Value Patterns?

    Functions of Cultural Values
    Analyzing Cultural Values
    Identity Meaning Function
    Explanatory Function
    Motivational Function
    Ingroup-Outgroup Evaluative Function

    Analyzing Cultural Value Dimensions
    Discovering Cultural Values
    Identity: Individualism-Collectivism Value Pattern
    Power: Small-Large Power Distance Value Pattern
    Uncertainty: Weak-Strong Uncertainty Avoidance Value Pattern
    Sex Roles: Feminine-Masculine Value Pattern

    Additional Value Orientation Patterns
    Value Orientations: Background Information
    Meaning: Activity Value Orientation
    Destiny: People-Nature Value Orientation
    Time: Temporal Value Orientation

    Individual Socialization Development
    Independent Versus Interdependent Self-Construal
    Horizontal Versus Vertical Self-Construal
    Internal Versus External Locus of Control

    Intercultural Reality Check: Do-Ables

    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
    The Process of Acculturation and Enculturation
    Systems-Level Factors
    Individual-Level Factors
    F2F and Network-Level Factors
    Mass Media-Level Factors

    Group Affiliation and Identity Formation
    Cultural Identity Conceptualization
    Ethnic Identity Conceptualization

    Ethnic/Racial Identity Change Process
    Cultural-Ethnic Identity Typological Model
    Racial-Ethnic Identity Development Model
    Multiracial and Biracial Identity

    Intercultural Reality Check: Do-Ables

    Part Two: Crossing Cultural and Communication Boundaries Adaptively

    5: What Is Culture Shock?

    Unpacking Culture Shock
    Characteristics of Culture Shock
    Pros and Cons of Culture Shock
    Approaching Culture Shock: Underlying Factors
    Initial Tips To Manage Culture Shock

    Intercultural Adjustment: Developmental Patterns
    The U-Curve Adjustment Model
    The Revised W-Shaped Adjustment Model
    Culture Shock: Peaks and Valleys

    Reentry Culture Shock
    Reentry Culture Shock: Surprising Elements
    Resocialization: Different Returnees' Profiles

    Intercultural reality Check: Do-Ables

    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:
    The Cultural Worldview Function
    The Everyday Social Reality Function
    The Cognitive Shaping Function
    The Group Membership Identity Function
    The Social Change Function

    Verbal Communication Styles: A General Framework
    Defining Low-Context and High-Context Interaction Patterns
    Direct and Indirect Verbal Styles
    Self-Enhancement and Self-Humbling Verbal Styles
    Beliefs Expressed in Talk and Silence

    Intercultural Reality Check: Do-Ables

    7: What Are the Different Ways to Communicate Nonverbally Across Cultures?

    The Impact of Nonverbal Communication
    Making Sense of Nonverbal Communication
    One Code, Countless Interpretations
    Verbal and Nonverbal Comparisons

    Forms of Nonverbal Communication
    Physical Appearance
    Facial Expressions

    Boundary Regulations
    Regulating Interpersonal Boundaries
    Environmental Boundaries
    Psychological Boundaries
    Regulating Time

    Intercultural Reality Check: Do-Ables

    Part Three: Managing Challenges in Intercultural Relationships Flexibly

    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
    Distances of Indifference, Avoidance, and Disparagement
    Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS)
    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
    Prejudiced Remarks or Innocent Jokes?
    Four Discriminatory Practices
    Different Types of Racism
    Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination

    Intercultural Reality Check: Do-Ables

    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
    Defining Conflict Styles
    Cross-Cultural Conflict Styles
    Cross-Ethnic Conflict Styles and Facework

    Flexible Intercultural Conflict Skills
    Facework Management
    Mindful Listening
    Cultural Empathy
    Mindful Reframing
    Adaptive Code-Switching

    Intercultural Reality Check: Do-Ables

    10: What Are the Challenges in Developing an Intercultural-Intimate Relationship?

    Developing Intercultural-Intimate Relationships: Invisible Challenges
    Cultural-Ethnic Membership Values
    Love Expectations and Expressions
    Autonomy-Connection Issues
    Communication Decoding Issues

    Intercultural-Intimate Relationship Attraction: Facilitating Factors
    Perceived Physical Attractiveness
    Perceived Similarity
    Cross-Cultural Self-Disclosure Comparisons
    Online Disclosure of Affection
    Third Party Matchmakers: Online and Mobile Dating
    Intercultural/Interracial Romantic Relationship Development

    Intercultural-Intimate Conflict: Obstacles and Stumbling Blocks
    The Encounter: Prejudice and Racism
    Countering Racism and Prejudice: Coping Strategies
    Relational Transgressions and Terminations

    Raising Secure Bicultural Children
    Bicultural Identity Struggles
    Cultivating a Secure Multifaceted Identity

    Intercultural Reality Check: Do-Ables

    11: What Are the Communication Issues Facing a Global Identity?

    Wired and On: The Roar of the Internet
    The Internet as our Central Station
    Wired Communication

    The Transformation of Local and Global Identities
    The Lens of Television: Identity Imitation
    Global Television Impact
    Be Hip, be Hot, and Pop Culture Impact
    Outsourced Beats: You are What You Can Dance To
    You are What you Wear: Pop Culture as Fashion

    Who and What are e.netizens?
    Defining the Background of e.netizens
    Characteristics of an e.netizen Identity

    The Dialectics Pulls of an e.netizen
    Spatial Zone Dialectics
    Temporal Zone Dialectics

    The Tipping Point: Communication Pattern Changes
    Gadget Communication Patterns: Fast and Furious
    Sharing Intimate Partners with a Gadget
    Language Styles: Text, Tweet, Talk
    Communicating to be Social Change Agents
    Present but Virtual

    Personal Identities in Flux: The Global Face

    Intercultural Reality Check: Do-Ables

    12: How Can We Become Ethical Intercultural Communicators?

    Intercultural Communication Ethics: Contemporary Issues
    Global Standard Procedure and Local Justice Issues
    Corporate Responsibility and Local Customary Practice
    Cultural Value Clash and Communication Preference

    Multiple Ethical Positions: Assessing Pros and Cons
    Ethical Absolutism Position
    Ethical Relativism Position
    Ethical Universalism Position
    Meta-Ethics Contextualism Position

    Becoming Ethical and Flexible Intercultural Communicators
    Becoming Ethical: Ten Questions to Consider
    Becoming Flexible: Final Passport Do-Ables


Teaching Resources


An Instructor's Manual / Test Bank that contains more than 500 pages of original exercises, activities, up-to-date media resources, classical and contemporary film lists, sample syllabi, and paper assignments.

A password-protected Companion Website that features the Instructor's Manual, PowerPoint lecture slides, a Student Success Manual, and links to supplemental material and films.

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