Dr Mingyuan Chu

Project Title: Establishing how cross-cultural differences in nonverbal behaviours influence face-to-face communication

This project seeks to establish how cross-cultural differences in expressing and decoding nonverbal behaviour influence interpersonal communication. Globalisation means that people from different cultures are increasingly likely to interact with one another either in person or via video link. Effective cross-cultural interaction requires not only understanding spoken language but also decoding nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, eye gaze, hand gestures, posture and voice tone and loudness. Despite that nonverbal behaviour is a fundamental element of human communication, they vary in their usage and meaning across cultures. The same nonverbal behaviour can be interpreted or valued differently in different cultures. For example, eye contact shows attentiveness and sincerity in western cultures, whereas it is thought to be disrespectful and rude in many East Asian cultures. The planned project aims to achieve two goals: 1) identifying the common and culture-specific nonverbal behaviours produced by English and Mandarin speakers during face-to-face communication; and 2) establishing how English and Mandarin speakers interpret nonverbal behaviour in the other culture. Findings of this project will help to improve British and Chinese people’s ability to “read” each others’ nonverbal behaviour and to avoid conflict due to misunderstandings of nonverbal behaviour.

Awarded: Research Incentive Grant

Field: Psychology

University: University of Aberdeen

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