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Intercultural Communication

Intercultural Communication
A Contextual Approach

Seventh Edition
Additional resources:

January 2017 | 528 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

“…offers knowledge, voices, discussions, and activities that will greatly help students engage and embody the learning experiences of intercultural communication in and out of the classroom.”

Bin Zhang, PhD., South Puget Sound Community College


In the fully updated Seventh Edition of Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, bestselling author James W. Neuliep provides a clear contextual model (visually depicted by a series of concentric circles) for examining communication within cultural, microcultural, environmental, sociorelational, and perceptual contexts. Students are first introduced to the broadest context—the cultural component of the model—and progress chapter by chapter through the model to the most specific dimensions of communication. Each chapter focuses on one context and explores the combination of factors within that context, including setting, situation, and circumstances. Highlighting values, ethnicity, physical geography, and attitudes, the book examines means of interaction, including body language, eye contact, and exchange of words, as well as the stages of relationships, cross-cultural management, intercultural conflict, and culture shock.

A Note on Culture and Language
Chapter 1: The Necessity of Intercultural Communication
The Need for Intercultural Communication

Benefits of Intercultural Communication

Diversity in the United States

Human Communication

The Nature of Human Communication

Human Communication Apprehension

The Nature of Culture

Accumulated Pattern of Values, Beliefs, and Behaviors

An Identifiable Group of People With a Common History

Verbal and Nonverbal Symbol Systems

Microcultural Groups

The Study of Intercultural Communication

A Contextual Model of Intercultural Communication

Intercultural Communication and Uncertainty

Intercultural Communication Apprehension

Fundamental Assumptions About Intercultural Communication

The Ethics of Intercultural Communication

The Five Approaches to Determining Which Behaviors Are Ethical

The Ethical Principles of Eastern Cultures

The Goal: Intercultural Communication Competence

An Integrated Model and Measure of Intercultural Communication Competence

Chapter Summary

Discussion Questions

Developing Intercultural Communication Competence

Key Terms

Chapter 2: The Cultural Context



Individualism Versus Collectivism?

So, Who’s an Individualist, and Who’s a Collectivist?

Patterns of Individualism and Collectivism Across the United States

Communication Consequences of Individualism-Collectivism

Vertical and Horizontal Individualism and Collectivism

The Pancultural Self

High- and Low-Context Communication

Characteristics of High- and Low-Context Cultures

Value Orientations

Schwartz Theory of Basic Values

Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck’s Value Orientations

Power Distance

Measuring Power Distance

Communication and Power Distance

Uncertainty Avoidance

A Theory of Uncertainty Orientation

Chapter Summary

Discussion Questions

Ethical Considerations Within the Cultural Context

Developing Intercultural Communication Competence

Key Terms

Chapter 3: The Microcultural Context
Microcultural Group Status

Muted Microcultural Groups

Microcultures in the United States


Black Americans

Asian Americans

Normative Communication Styles of Black Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics/Latinos

Native Americans/American Indians

Arab Americans

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning Microcultural Groups

Chapter Summary

Discussion Questions

Ethical Issues And Microcultures

Developing Intercultural Communication Competence

Key Terms

Chapter 4: The Environmental Context
Environments and Information Load

Culture and the Natural Environment

Worldviews of the Natural Environment

Natural Disasters as Cultural and Social Events

The Built Environment

Cross-Cultural Comparisons of Housing

Japanese Housing

American Navajo Housing

Muslim Homes


Perceptions of Privacy in the United States

Cross-Cultural Variations on Privacy

Online Privacy Across Cultures

Monochronic Versus Polychronic Time Orientation

Consequences of Monochronic and Polychronic Orientations

Chapter Summary

Discussion Questions

Ethics and the Environmental Context

Developing Intercultural Communication Competence

Key Terms

Chapter 5: The Perceptual Context
Culture and Cognition

The Geography of Thought

A Model of Human Information Processing

Cross-Cultural Differences in Sensation and Perception

Cross-Cultural Differences in Memory and Retrieval

Categorization and Mental Economy


Racial and Ethnic Stereotypes

U.S. Stereotypes

Media Influence on Stereotypes

Stereotype Content Model

Why Stereotype?

Stereotypes and Expectations


A Contemporary Conceptualization of Ethnocentrism

Ethnocenterism, Intercultural Communication, and Interpersonal Perception

Ethnocenterism and Communication in the Workplace

Ethnocentrism and Racism

Chapter Summary

Discussion Questions

Ethics and the Perceptual Context

Developing Intercultural Competence

Key Terms

Chapter 6: The Sociorelational Context
Dimensions of Group Variability

Membership and Nonmembership Groups

In-Groups and Out-Groups

Reference Groups

Role Relationships

Role Differentiation and Stratification

Family Groups

Sex and Gender Groups

Sex and Gender Roles Across Cultures






Saudi Arabia

Chapter Summary

Discussion Questions

Ethics and the Sociorelational Context

Developing Intercultural Communication Competence

Key Terms

Chapter 7: The Verbal Code
The Relationship Between Language and Culture

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

The Structure of Human Language

Sounds and Symbols

Syntax and Universal Grammar

Universals of Language

Generative Grammar

The Gendering of Language: Are Languages Sexist?

Elaborated and Restricted Codes

Cross-Cultural Communication Styles

Direct and Indirect Styles

Elaborate, Exacting, and Succinct Styles

Personal and Contextual Styles

Instrumental and Affective Styles

Gendered Language Style Across Cultures

Language and Ethnic Identity

Do You Speak "American"?

Chapter Summary

Discussion Questions

Ethics and the Verbal Code

Developing Intercultural Communication Competence

Key Terms

Chapter 8: The Nonverbal Code
Definitions of Nonverbal Communication

The Relationship Between Verbal and Nonverbal Codes

Formal Versus Informal Code Systems

Channels of Nonverbal Communication







Physical Appearance and Dress


Nonverbal Communication and Dimensions of Cultural Variability


Power Distance

High and Low Context

Nonverbal Expectancy Violations Theory

Cultural Contexts and Nonverbal Expectancies

Chapter Summary

Discussion Questions

Ethics and the Nonverbal Code

Developing Intercultural Communication Competence

Key Terms

Chapter 9: Developing Intercultural Relationships
Communication and Uncertainty

Anxiety/Uncertainty Management Theory of Effective Communication

Uncertainty Reduction and Intercultural Communication Apprehension

Assessing Sociocommunicative Orientation/Style

Empathy and Similarity in Relationship Development



Perceptions of Relational Intimacy Across Cultures

Eastern and Western Cultures and Relationships

Interethnic and Interracial Relationships and Marriages

Intercultural Relational Maintenance

The Internet as Relational Maintenance

Mate Selection and Desirability Across Cultures

Arranged Marriages

Marital Dissolution and Divorce Across Cultures

Chapter Summary

Discussion Questions

Ethics and Intercultural Relationships

Developing Intercultural Communication Competence

Key Terms

Chapter 10: Intercultural Conflict
Definition of Intercultural Conflict

Kim’s Model of Intercultural Conflict

A Culture-Based Social Ecological Conflict Model

Intercultural Dialogue, Conflict Resolution, and a Culture of Peace

The Concept of Face, Facework, and Communication Conflict Styles



Conflict Communication Styles

The Intercultural Conflict Style Inventory

Individualistic and Collectivistic Approaches to Conflict

Conflict Resolution in High- Versus Low-Context Cultures

Resolving Cross-Cultural Conflict: A Contingency Model

Chapter Summary

Discussion Questions

Ethics and Intercultural Conflict

Developing Intercultural Communication Competence

Key Terms

Chapter 11: Intercultural Communication in Business, Health Care, and Educational Settings
Intercultural Management

Management Practices Across Cultures

Japanese Management Practices

German Management Practices

Mexican Management Practices

Chinese Management Practices

Culture, Intercultural Communication, and Health Care

Lay Theories of Illness

Health Care and Resources Across Cultures

Health Communication

Provider-Patient Communication

Intercultural Communication and Educational Settings

Learning Styles Across Cultures

Teacher Immediacy in the Classroom and Across Cultures

Some Recommendations for the Intercultural Classroom

Chapter Summary

Discussion Questions

Ethical Considerations

Developing Intercultural Communication Competence

Key Terms

Chapter 12: Acculturation, Culture Shock, and Intercultural Competence

Acculturative Stress

A Model of Acculturation

Modes of Acculturation

Acculturation in the United States

Culture Shock

W-Curve Models of Reentry Culture Shock

Strategies for Managing Culture Shock

Indicators of Success in the Intercultural Context

Intercultural Communication Competence

A Model of Intercultural Competence

Situational Features

Chapter Summary

Discussion Questions

Ethical Considerations: Some Final Thoughts on Developing Intercultural Competence

Key Terms



Instructor Site

SAGE edge for Instructors supports teaching by making it easy to integrate quality content and create a rich learning environment for students.

  • Test banks provide a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding
  • Sample course syllabi for semester and quarter courses provide suggested models for structuring one’s course
  • Editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation for the course
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected to support and expand on the concepts presented in each chapter to encourage students to think critically
  • Video and multimedia links appeal to students with different learning styles
  • Lecture notes summarize key concepts by chapter to ease preparation for lectures and class discussions
Student Study Site

SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help students accomplish their coursework goals in an easy-to-use learning environment.

  • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts
  • Mobile-friendly practice quizzes allow for independent assessment by students of their mastery of course material
  • An online action plan allows students to track their progress through the course and materials and to individualize their learning experience
  • Learning objectives reinforce the most important material
  • Video and multimedia web links facilitate student use of internet resources and further exploration of topics
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected to support and expand on the concepts presented in each chapter

“… expert content, flexibility to adapt to student activities, current, provides useful conceptual foundation to apply to intercultural communication”

Shirley A. Fessel, MA, Med
Park University

“Intercultural Communication introduces the college student to the key principles and concepts needed to be an effective communicator in a continually complex and diverse world.”

Jason Hough
Hartnell College

“A solid academic overview of intercultural communication.”

Joshua Daniel Phillips
Penn State Brandywine

“…a very well researched and packaged textbook outlining the principles of intercultural communications. Additionally the book and publisher provides a number of helpful aids in teaching of this course and using its book effectively.”

Dr. David Schreindl
Dickinson State University

“This textbook could serve as an excellent introductory text for undergraduate students who are the beginners of intercultural communication. It offers knowledge, voices, discussions, and activities that will greatly help students engage and embody the learning experiences of intercultural communication in and out of the classroom.”

Bin Zhang, PhD
South Puget Sound Community College

“This is a useful resource for both teaching and research; a significant reference material to enhance students understanding of intercultural communication concepts.”

Shirley Acquah
Westfield State University

“Thoroughly researched and cited; an excellent research tool for a student interested in (or assigned) a research project in this area”

Sandra Alspach
Ferris State University

“…a thoughtfully constructed intercultural communication textbook that integrates rich detail about communication theory and research with vivid examples and opportunities for personal application.”

Meredith Marko Harrigan
SUNY Geneseo

“A well-rounded intercultural book that touches every corner of the course, including current examples, detailed definitions, and useful student exercises.”

Nader H. Chaaban, Ph.D
George Mason University
Key features


  • Increased coverage and integration of intercultural competence and communication skills reflects the latest research and trends in the field.
  • Five new Student Voices Across Cultures stories have been added to give readers the most current perspectives of students from around the world.
  • Each chapter now includes discussions on ethics and developing intercultural communication competence, which encourages students to think about how they would react in a variety of situations and builds upon their knowledge from previous chapters to make thoughtful decisions.


  • Neuliep’s contextual model of intercultural communication examines communication within macro- and micro-cultural contexts, a unique method not offered in any other text
  • Student Voices Across Culture features fascinating, real life applications, as students from across the globe share their personal experiences
  • Intercultural Conversations in each chapter show readers how theoretical concepts translate into real human communication
  • Research-based self-assessment tools measure concepts such as intercultural communication apprehension, ethnocentrism, individualism-collectivism, conflict style preferences, and intercultural competence
  • Ethics Questions encourage students to think about how they might respond and react ethically to intercultural situations

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 11

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