Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Transmitting Stereotype-Relevant Information in Conversation: Evidence from Chinese Undergraduates

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Transmitting Stereotype-Relevant Information in Conversation: Evidence from Chinese Undergraduates

Article excerpt

Stereotypical information commonly passes from one person to another through an interpersonal communication chain. Researchers (e.g., Lyons & Kashima, 2001, 2003, 2006) have used the serial reproduction method to simulate this process, and found that people were generally inclined to transmit more stereotype-consistent (SC) than stereotype-inconsistent (SI) or stereotype-neutral (SN) information (see Kashima, Klein, & Clark, 2007, for a review) when communicating.

It is worth noting that most prior researchers in this field have used written communication assessment techniques, with very few employing oral communication (Kashima, Lyons, & Clark, 2013), and most have also focused on the retelling of fictional stories rather than factual material (Kashima et al., 2013; Lyons & Kashima, 2001, 2003, 2006). Finally, previous research involving the serial reproduction method has been mainly conducted in the Western European cultural context (Kashima & Yeung, 2010). Therefore, to extend the literature we explored whether or not SC information was conversationally reproduced more than SI information was, using a factual research report and a fictional story and examining participants in a Chinese cultural context.

Oral vs. Written Communication

Although conversation is the most basic means of communication, writing also plays a crucial role, and previous researchers (Lyons & Kashima, 2001, 2003, 2006) employing the serial reproduction method have mainly used written communication in their studies. However, it is also important to examine the transmission of stereotype-relevant information using face-to-face oral serial communication, allowing audience feedback (McIntyre, Lyons, Clark, & Kashima, 2004). To assess the effect of different communication modes on the transmission of stereotype-relevant information, it is essential to analyze the difference between written and oral communication.

There was no feedback facilitated between participants in prior research in which written communication was used. In Kashima and Yeung's (2010) study, each participant in the later positions of the chain read only the reproduced story from the previous participant and retold the reproduced story to the next participant. However, the previous participant may have retold more SC than SI information to help the next participant comprehend the reproduced story, because the former type is shared information between communicators that is easier to understand. SI information is harder to understand because of its unexpected or unusual nature. In addition, participants may find it difficult to explain SI information in writing (Lyons & Kashima, 2006). Therefore, an SC bias emerges in participants' communication, whereby SC information is retained and SI information is omitted.

Conversations are not only one person's transmission of information to another person, but are also a joint activity (Kashima et al., 2013). That is, both information providers and receivers play a significant role in a conversation. When participants are engaged in face-to-face oral communication, audience feedback increases the motivation to reach a mutual understanding efficiently. In this case, the goal of coherence may be more salient than it is in written communication (Lyons & Kashima, 2006); thus, it is possible that face-to-face communication will lead to a larger SC bias (Kashima et al., 2013).

Communicating Factual Information vs. Fictional Stories

Factual materials, such as research reports, news, and newspapers, are accorded a relatively equal status with fictional information by most Chinese people, in terms of their importance (Yoshimura & Sumiyo, 2006). Researchers (Kashima et al., 2013; Lyons & Kashima, 2001, 2003, 2006) who have employed the serial reproduction method have mainly used a fictional story as a stimulus, and, to our knowledge, no one has investigated serial reproductions with factual material in face-to-face oral communication contexts. …

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