Culture, Self, and Collectivist Communication Linking Culture to Individual Behavior



    1. Theodore M. Singelis (M.A., University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1992) is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Degree Scholar in the Program for Cultural Studies at the East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.
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    1. William J. Brown{Ph.D., University of Southern California, 1988} is dean of the College of Communication and the Arts at Regent University.
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  • Preparation of this article was supported in part by the East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii. The authors wish to acknowledge the helpful comments of Harry Triandis, Michael Bond, and Richard Brislin on earlier drafts of this article. Also, the authors would like to thank Howard Giles for his guidance in the formulation of the final draft.


This study develops and demonstrates a theoretical framework and corresponding methodology to link variables at the culture level to the individual level and, then, to specific outcome variables. We argue that in order to advance theory about culture's influence on communication, researchers must begin to examine how culture affects individual level (psychological) processes and, subsequently, how these processes affect communication. The image of self, referred to as self-construal, is an ideal candidate to perform the role of linking culture to behavior. The self is shaped by cultural forces and affects many, if not all, communication behaviors. The proposed strategy is applied in the test of a path-analytic model linking cultural collectivism with interdependent self-construals and, ultimately, high-context communication. The discussion includes implications for theory development and possible applications to further research.