Sex, Communication Values, and Cultural Values: Individualism-Collectivism as a Mediator of Sex Differences in Communication Values in Two Cultures

By Mortenson, Steven T. | Communication Reports, Winter 2002 | Go to article overview

Sex, Communication Values, and Cultural Values: Individualism-Collectivism as a Mediator of Sex Differences in Communication Values in Two Cultures


Mortenson, Steven T., Communication Reports


In an effort to understand how socialization shapes value orientations, the current study examined the mediating role of individualism-collectivism on the connection between sex and communication values in two cultures, American and Chinese. Participants (97 Americans, 39 men and 58 women; 105 Chinese, 44 men and 61 women) completed scales providing assessments of communication values and individualism-collectivism. Regression analyses showed that collectivism was an especially strong mediator of the sex-communication values association among Americans, but not among Chinese. In addition, collectivism made strong, independent contributions to the prediction of communication values. These results are interpreted in terms of how broad-scale value orientations (such as collectivism) shape more specific orientations to particular forms and functions of communication.

**********

* Recent research has found that the value placed on supportive forms of communication, including comforting and ego support, is associated with the kinds of messages used in support situations, as well as with the quality of people's interpersonal relationships (Samter & Burleson, 1990). Ego support generally refers to making people feel good about who they are or the things they have accomplished (Burleson & Samter, 1990). Two common forms of ego support include encouraging support (providing encouragement for undertaking a difficult or challenging task) and celebratory support (celebrating another's achievements or accomplishments). Comforting skill refers to the ability to alleviate another's emotional distress (Burleson, 1994). These two forms of communication play central roles in most close personal relationships, including friendships and romantic relationships (Buhrmester, Furman, Wittenberg, & Reis, 1988; Burleson & Samter, 1994; Westmyer & Myers, 1996). That is, in most close relationships, people look to their partners for ego support in both good and uncertain times, and for comfort in difficult times. Thus, it makes good sense that people who place a high value on these supportive forms of communication are themselves viewed as desirable relationship partners. Indeed, people who value these forms of communication highly have been found to have more friends and to be better liked by peers (Samter, 1992, 1994; Samter & Burleson, 1990).

Not surprisingly, reliable (if small) sex differences have been found in the value placed on comforting and ego support skills, with women placing somewhat greater value on these forms of communication than men (Burleson, Kunkel, Samter, & Werking, 1996). This pattern of sex differences is consistent with broader patterns of sex differences in orientations to friendships (see the summary by Fehr, 1996) and romantic relationships (see the summary by Winstead, Derlega, & Rose, 1997). For example, in contrast to those of men, women's friendships have been described as: affectively richer (Booth, 1972), focused on reciprocity rather than commonality and association (Reisman, 1990; Weiss & Lowenthal, 1975) and "expressive" rather than "instrumental" (Bakan, 1966). These differences suggest that women emphasize the importance of skills through which feelings and emotions are expressed and discussed. Thus, it makes sense that women generally place greater value than men on affectively oriented skills such as comforting and ego support. Men, in contrast, appear to emphasize the importance of communication skills through which activities are smoothly and enjoyably coordinated; thus, men tend to value instrumental forms of communication such as persuasion and narrative skill more highly than women.

Cross-cultural research suggests that such differences may be more a product of cultural orientation than sex. Research examining sex differences across cultures suggest that sex, as an organizing principle for the development of communication styles, does not often operate the same way in different cultures (Waldron & Di Mare, 1998). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sex, Communication Values, and Cultural Values: Individualism-Collectivism as a Mediator of Sex Differences in Communication Values in Two Cultures
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.