Culture and Applied Nonverbal Communication
Seung Hee Yoo
San Francisco State University
As this volume has indicated there is now a rich literature examining the nonverbal behaviors in many applied settings. These studies continue to document exactly how important nonverbal behaviors are in real life situations and that they have real life consequences as well.
In addition to this literature there is a large basic research literature examining the influence of culture on nonverbal behaviors. This literature is important because it informs us of the ways in which nonverbal behaviors and communication processes in general can be similar and different across cultures. They provide a platform by which many basic studies of nonverbal behaviors and communication have occurred in the past, and will occur in the future.
The domain of cross-cultural research on applied nonverbal behavior, however, is in its infancy, and to date there have only been a handful of studies that have been published in peer-reviewed journals. The goal of this chapter is to encourage such research to blossom. To do so we first discuss a conceptual understanding and definition of culture, and then how culture influences the encoding and decoding of nonverbal behaviors. We then discuss several methodological issues concerning cross-cultural research that researchers should be aware of. At the end of this chapter we briefly describe an example of an applied study of nonverbal behaviors from our laboratory. We hope that this information becomes some of the nutrients needed for future research to take root and grow.