Foundations of Intercultural Communication Research Paper

As is true with most disciplines, it must start with a groundwork that sets things in place. That groundwork I am speaking about, is foundations. The oxford dictionary defines foundation as “a principle, an idea, or a fact that something is based on and that it grows from” (Foundation). Intercultural Communication has basic foundations that have shaped the way it is practiced and studied worldwide. Today, I will be discussing eight methods of study, specifically explaining each one with research and an example in each. 

First, I will discuss cross-cultural training. On pages 129 and 130 of the Handbook of Intercultural Training, the authors Dan Landis, Janet M Bennett, and Milton J Bennett state “Although many scholars have investigated – and theorized about – various aspect of the cross-cultural training (CCT) program design for expatriates, relatively few have focused their efforts on the evaluation of these programs’ effectiveness” (Handbook of Intercultural Communication). This training program sounds like the type of program that would be beneficial to people because the more aware of different cultures, the easier it is to interact with them. One example of cross-cultural training can include a workshop at a professional workplace setting designed to help employees become more conscious of workplace cultural sensitivity. 

Secondly, I will discuss the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. “The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, also known as the linguistic relativity hypothesis, refers to the proposal that the particular language one speaks influences the way one thinks about reality” (Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis). This hypothesis is important for us to consider because the study of linguistics is important to know the development of language and how it works for conversation and interaction purposes. We can only understand people, by understanding how to communicate with them. An example that we may see of linguistics could take place in a college setting. Specifically, with the study of linguistics, you will see the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis come up and be taught. A word that shapes our society and/or our culture is the foundation of linguistics, language. Language shapes our culture by being the basis of how we communicate with others from different cultures. 

Thirdly, I will discuss the Face Negotiation Theory. The Face Negotiation Theory was first proposed in 1985 by Stella Ting-Toomey. ¬Ting-Toomey proposed this theory “to understand how different cultures throughout the world respond to conflict” (Gutenberg). Conflict is an issue we must face every day. Speaking of face, Ting-Toomey speaks about face in her theory. She claims face as “metaphor for self-image, which originates from two Chinese conceptualizations: lien and mien-tzu” (Gutenberg). Saving Face is a part of the Face Negotiation Theory. Saving face, as stated in Psychology Today, includes a famous quote by Elanor Roosevelt “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” (Saving Face). This quote is significant on saving face because the Face Negotiation Theory is a strategy. It is a basic belief that people should be in accordance with one another. 

Fourthly, I will discuss Min-Sun Kim’s Conversational constraints theory. Kim wrote about how culture influences communication. Apart from the conversational constraints theory, Min-Sun wrote that there are universal constraints. The first one is clarity. The second constraint is minimizing imposition. Third is the consideration for the other’s feelings. The fourth one is risking negative evaluation by the receiver. The final constraint is effectiveness. Clarity is listed here as the first constraint, but they can be placed in any order. However, I believe clarity is the most important. “Clarity is defined as the likelihood of an utterance making one’s intention clear and explicit. Clarity is an important part of conversation because in order for a conversation to flow properly, the communication needs to be clear and precise” (Conversational constraints theory). An example of clarity in a conversation because if you were having a conversation amongst two separate cultures, being able to express yourself, and themselves, clearly makes the conversation flow smoothly. 

Next, I will discuss the anxiety uncertainty management theory. This theory consists of two subtheories. One of those subtheories is effective communication and the other is a stranger’s intercultural adjustment. “Both subtheories were designed to improve the quality of their communication in intercultural communication contexts” (Nishida). An example of this is when you are interacting with another culture unfamiliar to you is to ensure the communication is effective both ways, instead of a one-way conversation. 

To continue, I will discuss the diffusion of innovations theory. The diffusion of innovations theory was first published by Everett Rogers in a book in 1962. In that book “Rogers argues that diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated over time among the participants in a social system” (Diffusion of innovations). An example of this theory in practice is when people are immersed into different cultures and need to put themselves in different social systems in order to get the full experience of that culture. 

Moving on, I will now talk about the communication theory of identity. The communication theory of identity was coined by Michael Hecht in 1993. It is “a layered theory that conceptualizes identity as experienced at multiple levels or layers, multifaceted and dynamic, and communicated both verbally and behaviorally in diverse ways evolving over time” (SAGE Reference). An example of this theory is when having a conversation, being able to have a full two way conversation with effective communication.

Finally, I will discuss Afrocentricity. “Afrocentricity is a paradigm based on the idea that African people should re-assert a sense of agency in order to achieve sanity” (Afrocentricity). African American people began studying this at universities in the 1960’s. It was a way to oppose how their white counterparts view differing forms of American academics. An example is having HBCU, or historically black colleges or universities. These universities provide views that correlate with African American views and customs.   

In conclusion, I discussed eight methods of study, specifically explaining each one with research and provided an example in each. This project has helped me look at intercultural communication differently. I hope it has made you look at it differently as well. 


Afrocentricity. (n.d.). Retrieved from 

Conversational constraints theory. (2020, March 20). Retrieved from 

Diffusion of innovations. (2020, December 31). Retrieved from 

Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Gutenberg, P. (n.d.). Face negotiation theory. Retrieved from  

Handbook of Intercultural Training. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Nishida, T. (2015, December 01). Anxiety/Uncertainty Management (AUM) Theory. Retrieved from 

SAGE Reference - Encyclopedia of Health Communication. (n.d.). Retrieved from  

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. (n.d.). Retrieved from 

Saving Face. (2010, November 29). Retrieved from


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