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Week 2 Paper Training

The information in this document is designed to train you for the week 2 paper and will give
you everything you need to know for the week 2 quiz.

Last week, when we discussed self-concept, we addressed the importance of culture in
establishing the standards for what we strive for, in terms of setting our goals and determining
the labels we want to be associated with. The cultural images and ideas around us are the basis
of “social comparison,” and this is instrumental to how we evaluate ourselves and establish and
maintain self-esteem. This week, we will continue to focus on culture, with an emphasis on the
links between culture and communication. To get to the patterns of communication that result
from cultural training, you will write a paper about culture this week, where you focus on
culture and verbal/nonverbal communication and two of these themes:

The paper is worth 7.5 points, which is 7.5% of your overall grade.

Before you begin writing the paper, be sure to:

1) Watch the video on culture titled “Culture in Action.”
2) Read chapters 3 and 4 in Bevan (2020) and pay close attention to how culture shapes

verbal and nonverbal communication.
3) Identify two ADDITIONAL points about culture and communication that you will cover in

your paper. You will need to both LIST and EXPLAIN two of the following themes:
• Gender
• High-context versus low-context
• Dominant and co-cultures
• Individualism and collectivism
• Perceptual filters

4) Explain how paying attention to culture can help a person improve as a communicator, utilizing
Bevan and, if you choose, one of the supplemental videos you watched

While reading and watching the videos:

1) Take notes. When you identify the themes that you will cover, remember that you are
required to cover verbal and nonverbal communication and then two of the following
themes –gender, high versus low context cultures, dominant cultures versus co-cultures,
individualism and collectivism, and perceptual filter.

2) Make connections between what you read in Bevan and if you chose to watch a video,
one of the themes covered in a video. You will need to “engage” with the reading
and/or video. If you do not quite understand what it means to “engage” with course
material and cite sources, please review the document titled “Engaging with Course
Content,” which can be found in the “resources” section of the paper assignment.

3) Bevan (2020) covers verbal and nonverbal communication and the five themes listed
above well. However, if you want to address race and ethnicity or social class and link
those ideas to one of the other themes such as perceptual filters, you will be required to
spend more time with one of the videos in the “resources” box.

General advice:

1) Be sure to do everything that is required. You must:

a) Use and cite Bevan to support you to discuss culture. Students will not likely earn a passing

grade if they do not use and cite Bevan.
b) Explain two points Bevan made about how culture structures verbal and nonverbal

communication. It is highly advised that you begin with a definition of culture as this will
help lay down a framework for your overall paper. If you do, try to relate your key points
about details about culture to that definition.

c) Explain how paying attention to culture can help someone improve as a communicator.
Don’t just say paying attention to culture will help us improve. Explain exactly how and why
this will happen. Whenever possible, use examples to illustrate points. So, perhaps you
want to say that Americans often think sustained eye contact is a sign of respect and
confidence. However, this is not universal, as we learned that in Japan it can be a sign of
disrespect and make other uncomfortable. To improve, we must be aware of the variance
in what eye contact means and how we can convey respect through a certain type of eye
contact or perhaps look at another part of the body. If you can link this back to the principle
of “respect” it will strengthen the point even further, as you can demonstrate that even the
notion of respect is different depending on one’s culture.

d) Include an introduction, thesis, and conclusion.
e) Follow APA style guidelines. This includes, but is not limited to: citing all sources used by

including the author’s name and the date of publication (e.g. Bevan, 2020), including a title
and reference page, inserting page numbers and a running header.

2) Be sure to carefully review the grading rubric. You will see that you are assessed on how well
you connect culture to communication, how well you explain verbal and nonverbal
communication and its connection to culture, and the TWO other cultural elements that you
selected to address. Remember, we are looking for you to “engage” with Bevan. However, if
you choose two themes that are not covered in Bevan (e.g. race/ethnicity and class), you will
have to watch and cite at least one video.

3) When you are done with the paper, we strongly recommend that you submit it to the Writing
Center’s “Paper Review” service. If not, before submitting, go through the grading rubric and
assess yourself on each category. If you are missing any elements, be sure to do them.

4) In the end, instructors are looking for evidence that you a) have done the reading, b) understand
the reading, c) have watched at least one video, d) can bring in some points from the video to
support you, and e) can list some ways one can use the information about culture to improve as
a communicator.

OPTIONAL – Advice for approaching each theme

The information above is all you need for the quiz. Below is some advice about approaching
each theme. Remember, it is required to address how culture shapes verbal and nonverbal
communication and then you select two additional themes.

Verbal communication

Verbal communication is covered in section 4.1 in Bevan. There are many themes you can
choose to address, including formal versus informal language, the various roles of language,
and biased language. Given that culture is defined by Bevan as a shared set of values, customs,
beliefs, and norms that are passed down from one generation to the next, through
communication, what role does language itself play in producing and sustaining culture? Try to
be as precise as possible in explaining the links between verbal communication and culture. For
example, perhaps you could explain how we are taught formal rules for how to behave in
school, and teachers use phrases such as “use your inside voice” or “time to put your things
away.” How do those subtle phrases teach children both “traditions” and “values?” What
other customs do we learn through verbal communication from our parents or the
government? Try to come up with examples to illustrate your key points and answer those
types of questions.

Nonverbal communication:

Nonverbal communication is covered in chapter 4 in Bevan. She explains that nonverbal
communication is a primary way we process the messages of others and this typically happens
unconsciously. She lists four forms of nonverbal communication, including kinesics, vocalics,
haptics, and proxemics. For each, you don’t want to just explain the concept. You want to
connect the idea to specific cultural training and/or cultural norms, values and beliefs. For
instance, why might extended eye contact have different meaning Japan? Is this a form of
kinesics? Does it connect to the ways they convey respect? Explain each concept you use and
give an example to illustrate the point.


The impact of gender on patterns of communication is a point of debate among communication
scholars. Bevan focuses on whether an individual is more “masculine” or “feminine” in their
orientation, instead of focusing on biological sex. Ultimately, what do they have to say about
the potential impact of one’s gender orientation and patterns of communication? To learn
more about these potential patterns, we strongly advise that you watch one of the videos as
they provide more detail about the themes covered in Bevan. For instance, in the video on
credibility, Professor Soraya Chemaly argues gender bias structures our world and that we must
find ways to overcome it. Focusing on the brain specifically, neuroscientist Sophie Scott
contends that gender does not have the type of power others have suggested, as
communication is primarily about social grooming, and that men and women both do it. Next,

communication specialist Audrey Nelson discusses both how and why women tend to be more
indirect and process-/emotion-oriented. Finally, Deborah Tannen, the creator of the “different
cultures” hypothesis addressed in Bevan (2020), explains her research in more detail. In the
end, why is all this information relevant? Does awareness of another’s style, whether they are
more “masculine” or “feminine” in their orientation help us improve as a communicator? s

High versus low context cultures

Bevan (2020) overs this topic in-depth in section 3.3. High context cultures tend to more
indirect in how they convey information and they rely more heavily on nonverbal cues and
implicit rules of engagement. Low-context cultures tend to be more direct, with meaning
derived more through verbal communication, and there is less reading between the lines. As
you read that section of Bevan, think about the quote from Edward Hall that says context is a
function of culture and it “designates what we pay attention to and what we ignore” (Section
3.3, Low-Context and High-Context Cultures, para. 1). Are there then overlaps here with
perceptual filters? If so you think so, make that connection.

Dominant versus co-cultures

Bevan (2020) address the idea of dominant and co-cultures in section 3.1. The dominant
culture establishes the general rules of a people and is represented through the language used
for trade, legal proceedings, law, and even entertainment. It also controls key social
institutions like the government, schools, media, and cultural expression. Remember while
dominant cultures are typically the majority of people in a given area, they don’t have to be as
there are sometimes dominant minorities, such as the White South Africans during apartheid.
As you think about this question, think about what politics, religious organizations, or hobbies
are dominant in your area and then what tends to be dominant in the United States more
generally. How are those dominant cultures sustained through communication?

Individualism versus collectivism

As has been stated, a central part of culture is training us how to think and how to think of our
place in the world and relationships to others. In section 3.1, in Bevan (2020), she addresses
the impact of leaning toward a more individualistic perspective (focusing more on the self as an
independent unit, where self-interest reigns) versus a collectivist perspective (focusing more on
the group interest, where the social-interest reigns). While the United States and Western
European nations tend to be more individualistic, these are not absolutes and sometimes we
lean toward individualism during certain periods and sometimes we lean toward the collective.
In fact, as people process the COVID 19 pandemic, you see countries that heavily value
individualism make choices designed to sustain the collective and we take individual actions
based on the social, collective good. As you read this section, pay special attention to how
focusing on individualism versus collectivism might shape specific patterns of communication.

Perceptual filters

The concept of perceptual filters is also covered in section 3.1 in Bevan (2020) in the section
titled “Culture and Communication.” One of the primary reasons culture is so important is that
it basically gives us a lens which through we look to see the world. Through cultural lenses, or
perceptual “filters” we are trained what to focus on, how we act, what we wear, how we
celebrate milestones, how close we stand to each other, or even how we think about the
meaning of life and death. Perceptual filters involve the mental structures we use to make
sense of both ourselves and the world around us. When you approach covering this topic, think
about filters as a way we are kind of programmed to think and act, including how we
communicate both verbally and nonverbally.

Covering the following themes is optional, but can help you make points about perceptual
filters and dominant versus co-cultures

Race and ethnicity

Bevan does not address race and ethnicity, but they are both typically linked to culture and
styles of communication. In the first video option, we learn about the idea of “racial literacy”
and in the second, we hear about race and ethnicity as it relates to acceptance, for our
difference, not just our similarities. For each, focus on the ways they address communication
specifically and try to make connections to more general points from Bevan (2020) about
culture, in terms of values, beliefs, customs, norms, and traditions. For the latter, on
similarities, pay attention what it means to ask the question “where are you from?” That
seemingly innocent question can be damaging to the receiver. How can the information
covered in one or both videos help one improve as a communicator? Can you link it to any of
the principles of effective/competent communication from week 1?

Social Class

While most people in the United States consider themselves to be “middle class,” social class
(like race and ethnicity) are a primary way that we divide people into groups. The social classes
of which we are a part teach us values, such as what we find attractive, our personal and
professional goals, and patterns of communication. The video on linguistic bias starts to
address this, as our social class is often linked to the ways we speak, as well as the way we
dress. As you write your paper, how can knowledge of social class and its links to
communication help one improve as a communicator? Should we pay more or less attention to
social class?


Cultural Influences

Student’s Name

COM 200

Instructor’s Name

November 25, 2019


In America, we have a very wide and diverse collection of religious cultures, beliefs, and

backgrounds. Intercultural Communication, as cited by Beven (2020) and stated by Kim(2010) is

“…the communication process in which individual participants of differing cultural and

subcultural backgrounds come into direct contact with one another” (p.3.1). In order to be

competent communicators with people with different cultural backgrounds, one must be patient,

understanding and show interest and respect for the other person’s feelings and cultural


There are a few reasons that explain why it is important to be aware of someone else’s

culture when attempting to communicate. One reason is to avoid being ostracized. According to

Beven(2020) to be ostracized is to be“…removed from a group or from society at large if you

violate the formally stated laws of the land or traditions of the areligious group”(p. 3.1). It is

never a good feeling to be avoided or looked at like an outcast. Another reason it is so important

is to clarify communication. When there is not a central understanding of what is being

communicated, interpersonal communication can be misinterpreted in the decoding process.

When this happens, it could take much longer to send a message to the receiver, than it would

with mutual understanding.

Culture has a huge impact on nonverbal communication. In the textbook Making

Connections: Understanding Interpersonal Communication , Beven(2020) mentions several

instances that would be considered nonverbal communication that is influenced by culture. One

instance she discusses is how in the United States it would be considered rude to not shake

someone’s hand in a professional setting, whereas Muslim men and women tend to not engage in

physical contact of the opposite sex. In order to show respect for this cultural difference, one

would have to learn about another culture and find a greeting that did not violate either side’s

Commented [KC1]: Per APA style guidelines, indent the
first line of each paragraph 5 to 7 spaces.

Commented [KC2]: Watch spelling (it’s Bevan) and
spacing (need a space after the name Kim.

Commented [KC3]: Good point on the practical
implications of clarity. If we are clear, interactions can take
less time.


cultural norm and comfort. Beven(2020), cites ( Gibbs, 2017; Jafar, 2017) in stating that an

alternative would be to put your hand over your heart or bowing.

Culture also has a huge impact on verbal communication. One example of verbal

communication that can have a negative impact on interpersonal communication, Beven(2020)

states, as cited by (Kemper, Ferrell, Harden, Finter-Urczyk, & Billington, 1998)“..elderspeak” in

which younger individuals speak slowly to aging adults, repeating themselves and using fewer

words”. This makes the older generation feel dehumanized and patronized as mentioned by

Beven(2020) as cited by Simpson (n.d.).

Being from a High context culture can be a benefit to understanding nonverbal

communication. According to Beven(2020) “A high-context culture, …, emphasizes the implicit

and indirect meaning of messages, and thus communicators rely more on nonverbal elements”(p.

3.3). In this culture, words do not have a solid meaning. It is more important to note context,

gestural communication, facial expressions, paralanguage, and touch as these are all nonverbal

forms of communication. Another defining aspect of a high context culture is their reluctance to

conflict. Beven(2020) gives an example where, in a high context culture, if someone was to ask

another to do something for them and they did not want to they would say something like

“maybe” or “if I can get to it”, rather than saying no and facing the chance of a repercussion.

A Low Context culture has very literal verbal communication traits. According to

Beven(2020) “…low-context culture tends to be clear, direct, and is typically derived from

words”(p. 3.3). This means that people from a low-context culture value words as high meaning.

For example, from the same instance as before, if one was to ask someone if they would do

something and they said “yes” or “maybe” or “if I can get to it”, it would never be understood as

anything but exactly what is said. When the person asked did not do what was asked this could

Commented [KC4]: That’s a great example and
resolution! It speaks to the principle of respect and points
out how both parties should make an effort to understand
each other and respect each other as well.

Commented [KC5]: This student makes a great link to the
earlier point about ostracization. It is always good to make
these types of links to previous points.

Commented [KC6]: This is another nice point. When
these two cultures meet, it can be deadly. So, one should
comment on the implications of this as well.


again cause this person to be ostracized. People from a low- context culture, not understanding

cultural differences, would become angry and feel like they have been lied to.

Some cultures prefer individualism and some collectivism. In the dimensions of culture,

Beven(2020) states “ Individualism/collectivism, Hofstede’s first dimension, considers the extent

to which countries value the individual and personal rights versus the community and the public

good”(p. 3.1). In the U.S. we tend to fall under an Individualism culture. An individualistic

culture has a strong sense of self, and values one’s own goals, choices, rights, and freedoms ,

whereas, a collectivistic culture, values close ties, harmony, and conforming(Beven, 2020). I do

believe that even one growing up in an individualistic culture you would have traits of both.

When describing oneself, one might say they are an American (this is a group, that stands

together, with shared values and beliefs). This should be a collectivistic example. If one said

that they wanted to be number one on the charts for a performing musician, this would be

considered an individualistic goal. However, people tend to group with like-minded people.

Musicians would surround themselves with other musicians, while in that group, this should be

considered a collectivistic goal.

Culture has a huge impact on the way we look at ourselves and others. Culture can

change the way we communicate. Understanding each other’s cultural differences is the only

way to effectively close the gaps in communication for competent interpersonal communication.

Commented [KC7]: Yes. There can be elements of both.
Though the way we are so divisive right now in this country
politically, I’m struggling to see even one common devotion
to “America” that we can agree to. But it is an important
point worth making here.

Commented [KC8]: It would have been nice to have seen
one more wrap-up of how paying attention can help us
improve as communicators. It is implicit to the student’s
earlier points but could have been made more overt and
precise here. Still, this is a solid paper overall.



Bevan, J. L. (2020). Making connections: Understanding interpersonal communication

(3rd ed.). https://content.ashford.edu/

Commented [KC9]: Use the term “references,” and
center this line.

Commented [KC10]: Per APA style guidelines, students
must indent the second line and all remaining lines of all
references. If you right click and select “paragraph,” you
can go over to indentation and click “special.” Select
“hanging” from the options and Word will do this for you

3.1 Culture and Communication

We are often unaware or not fully conscious of how culture influences our behavior and co
mmunication, but it infuses almost every aspect of our lives. Culture influences how we dre
ss, how we act, what and when we eat, what and when we celebrate, how we raise and educ
ate our children, and even how we view life and death. It affects our concepts of time, whet
her we prefer direct or indirect messages, and whether we view the world more as an indiv
idual or as a member of a group.

We are also often unaware of the extent to which culture acts as a perceptual filter on how
we view the world. A perceptual filter is the mental structure through which we organize a
nd assign meaning to new information (Jackson & Hogg, 2010). In fact, because our own cul
tural norms are so ubiquitous, we are likely not aware that even the way we think is influen
ced by our culture. Let’s think about two coworkers: John and Kiera. John’s culture values c
ertain table manners. John attends a work lunch with his new coworker Kiera, and her food
arrives before his does. Without checking with him, Kiera begins eating her food, while con
tinuing to chat, without waiting for John’s food to arrive as well. Because of his culturally de
veloped perceptual filter—
that waiting for everyone’s food to arrive before eating is expected—
John may perceive Kiera negatively as a result, and he may feel justified in doing so. He mig
ht label her as inconsiderate. His ability to get to know Kiera (and have a positive impressio
n of her) was impeded by his culture’s perceptual filter about table manners.
Perceptual filters can be changed, both individually and within cultures overall. For exampl
e, in a Trinidadian fishing village in the Caribbean, the hunting and consumption of leatherb
ack turtles—the largest of all sea turtles—
was a cultural norm. Due to a worldwide declining population of these turtles, one man stra
tegically used interpersonal communication through storytelling to change his village’s cult
ural norms (BBC Earth, 2017). He did this by shifting people’s perception of the cultural val
ue of turtles by highlighting that the turtles were good for tourism and by visiting local ele
mentary schools to teach children about the value of the turtles (BBC Earth, 2017). All of thi
s was only possible by reshaping the perceptual filter of how his neighbors thought about t
he turtles. Instead of “turtle ? food,” he helped the filter change to “turtle ? tourist attracti

Steve Raymer/Asia Images/Getty Images

Culture often seems instinctual because it is such an integral part of life, but its rules and no
rms are learned from birth.

Essentially, all of the messages we receive are filtered through our cultural norms. Without
reading a chapter like this one, people can remain unaware of these filters, experiencing bia
s toward, misunderstanding of, or negative perceptions of others who act differently from t
hem. Therefore, this knowledge is a crucial way that we can “acknowledge multiple views,”
a key principle of competent communication covered in Chapter 1. Throughout this chapter
, we will discuss various aspects of culture and how each affects interpersonal communicati
on. As you read, try to identify how these components of culture have influenced your perce
ption of, or communication with, a friend, acquaintance, classmate, or coworker from anoth
er culture.

What Is Culture?

When you travel to a new country, to a different region in the United States, or even to an e
vent or environment that is unfamiliar to you, you will likely encounter people who speak d
ifferent languages, wear different clothing, and have different customs from your own. Ever
y society has a culture, or a number of different cultures. Culture is a relatively specialized s
et of traditions, beliefs, values, and norms, or standards of behavior that have been passed
down from generation to generation by way of communication. Culture is often described a
s “the way we learn to do things.” Everyday parts of our lives, such as etiquette, customs, la
nguage, courtesy, and rituals such as shaking hands when you meet someone, are at least p
artially formed, shaped, and changed by culture.
Culture provides structure in a society by defining the roles of group members and the hier
archy or status of groups within the culture. In this sense, culture is normative, which mean
s that it provides the rules, regulations, and norms that govern society and the manner in w
hich people act with other members of that society. Rules can be unsanctioned, meaning th
at they are expected, implied, and unofficially-
rewarded or punished behaviors. Think about the expected rules in the United States when
checking out at a chain grocery store. We tend to expect a normalized and polite interaction
(e.g., “Hello, how are you?” or “Thank you!”). It would be frowned upon to try to haggle, wh
ich is a normal behavior in other cultures, such as in Nepal or India. These rules are not stri
ctly followed but are very ingrained in American culture. On the other hand, there are also s
trictly followed rules, which are organizationally or legally enforced, such as driving on a sp
ecific side of the road. All societies have a system of social organization, and culture serves t
o provide an ordered and organized system for dealing with people within that society thro
ugh norms and rules (Novinger, 2001).
Culture is learned, but it seems natural because it is such an integral part of life. People are
conditioned by culture to fit into a particular society, and the rules for interacting with othe
r people are learned from birth. These rules become hidden, subtle influences on our behav
ior. You learn when to talk, when to keep quiet, and what tone of voice to use. You are taug
ht which gestures are and are not acceptable. You learn what facial expressions are approv
ed and which will earn a reprimand. You learn to sit up straight, cover your mouth to sneez
e, and not to pick your nose (Novinger, 2001). At the same time, we use interpersonal com
munication to reinforce our cultural norms (Shank et al., 2018). By casually discussing wha
t we should be doing or gossiping about others, we reinforce what our culture defines as no
rmal or expected (Shank et al., 2018). In these ways, culture and interpersonal communicat
ion are reciprocal and build off one another.

Historically, most societies had a shared culture—
a consistent set of cultural traits, norms, and customs among members of that society. Most
modern societies, however, are a mix of different cultures. But you do not have to travel ab
road today to encounter cultural differences. Intercultural communication, which is a signif
icant area of study in the communication discipline, is “the communication process in whic
h individual participants of differing cultural and subcultural backgrounds come into direct
contact with one another” (Kim, 2010, p. 454). The United States, for example, is an ethnica
lly diverse nation of immigrants; in 2010, its foreign-
born population was estimated at 40 million people, or 13% of the population (United State

s Census Bureau, 2012). If you reside and work in the United States, you live in a multicultu
ral environment, and you may regularly come into contact with people whose cultural back
grounds differ from yours.
We can view the United States as an open system culture: a culture that has continuous inpu
ts and outputs from and to the surrounding environment. In other words, American culture
is influenced by and can influence elements of other cultures. One example of this is our ad
aptation of British television shows such as The Office. At the same time, who we are as a cu
lture has also spread around the world in the form of movies and television shows. Celebrit
y international endorsements are also examples of the continued dispersal of American cult
for example, singer Katy Perry’s promotion of Laundrin’, a Japanese laundry detergent, or r
apper and entertainer Snoop Dogg’s association with German phone and music brand Vybe
Societies exert pressure on people to conform to the way things are done in that culture, bu
t this pressure is often subtle. You may be unaware of it until you do something unacceptab
le or encounter people from other cultures