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Nonverbal communication Gender & Culture Tarik Baamier & Martijn Kersten American versus Arabic culture.

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Presentation on theme: "Nonverbal communication Gender & Culture Tarik Baamier & Martijn Kersten American versus Arabic culture."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nonverbal communication Gender & Culture Tarik Baamier & Martijn Kersten American versus Arabic culture

2 Programme Why Arabic culture? Importance of nonverbal communication Definition of nonverbal communication Visions regarding cultural differences Cultural variability Intercultural misunderstandings in discourses Theory of cultural variability American vs. Arabic culture Appearance and emotions Forms of appearances Visions on facial coverage Talkshow Discussion & conclusion 2

3 Why Arabic culture? Arabic world consists of many countries with 325 million people Integration involves cultural differences, also in nonverbal communication 3

4 Importance of nonverbal communication Analogous language consists of many nonverbal expressions Expressions have specific and context-tied meaning for a group or society Cultures differ in: –Eye contact –Touch behaviour –Hand gestures About 70 % of a message is transmitted nonverbal. The manner is depending on factors like: –Sex –Age –Culture (Shadid, 2007) 4

5 Definition of nonverbal communciation A system of symbols, signs and gestures developed and used by members of a culture to bring specific messages to expression (Sitaram & Cogdell; Ministerie van WVC, 1991) Appearance Other scientists believe nonverbal behaviour is also: –Clothing –Make-up –Hair style –Skin-colour –Weight –Architecture 5

6 Visions regarding cultural differences 1. Biological vision Basic emotions and the associated expressions are universal 2. Cultural vision –Rejects the biological origin –Crosscultural agreements are occasional or learned by intercultural contact 3. Biocultural vision –Between biological and cultural vision –Makes distinction between the origin of nonverbal behaviour and the way behaviour is used in several cultures 6

7 Cultural variability The recognition of expressions depends on the distance between cultures and the knowledge of the cultures The difference in nonverbal behaviour between natives and immigrants has negative impact for the credibility of the immigrant –Police interrogation –Application conversation More attention on presentation style (giving indirect answers, slowly speaking, looking away and making gestures) than the content (Vrij en Vrij; Cox & Blake, 1991) 7 Intercultural misunderstandings in discourses

8 Theory of cultural variability Many crosscultural comparisons are anecdotic Framework Shadid (2007) and Hofstede (2005) is scientific 8 Masculine culturesFeminine cultures Cultures with high uncertainty avoidance Cultures with low uncertainty avoidance Individualistic culturesCollective cultures Cultures with high power distanceCultures with low power distance Low context culturesHigh context cultures High contact culturesLow contact cultures

9 American vs. Arabic culture (1/3) Body part Gesture American meaningArabic meaning Head Rub head HeadacheMaybe Eye Stare Rude, a threatContact with the other’s soul Avoiding gaze Hiding somethingRude in conversation Hiding (glasses) Can be discomfortingRude in conversation Mouth Mouth-head Blessing (usually parentsBlessing (usually elders kiss to children)to children) Mouth-hand Male-female admirationChild-elder (respect) kiss Hand Handshake Acceptable by allSame sex: ritualized Heart Hand to heart Loyalty, sinceritySincerity, acceptable alternative to male-female handshake Feet, legs Exposure Irrelevant for males & Improper for all adults of legs females (Safadi, 1985) 9

10 American vs. Arabic culture (2/3) Personal distance & touching Preferred personal distance relatively smaller in Arabic culture Unusual for man-woman (even married couple) to walk hand in hand in public Arabic cultures more inclined to avoid touching the other sex during conversation Hand gestures More use of hand gestures in Arabic culture (Shadid, 2007) 10

11 American vs. Arabic culture (3/3) Topic American Arab Time Adherence to schedule is important Involvement with people & transactions is important Tangible: time can be spent, wasted Merely a point of reference “Later” has numerical implication “God’s will” controls the sequencing of events. One can plan but not promised to keep appointments “Me first” Family and community first Novelty is good Old and traditional is good Family Ideal: be individualistic Ideals: Obey elders and help maintain group harmony Labor Emphasis is on this-world achievement One works for one’s maintenance Agression Verbal agression implies a degree Verbal agression can serve to diffuse of violent action will follow passions and prevent physical violence 11

12 Appearance and emotions Three primary forms of appearances UnveiledHijaab Niqaab 12

13 Visions on facial coverage Government The niqaab prevents open communication and is undesirable Professor of medicine and neuropsychology Bea de Gelder (Tilburg University), says: –“Face covering is a particularly effective means to place someone outside the company” –“It is not only difficult to interprete what you say when your face can not be seen, but the need to talk disappears.” (De Lege, 2008) 13

14 Talkshow: Hijab, Niqab & Nothing 14

15 Discussion Does the niqaab form an obstacle in the perception of emotions? –Who votes in favor and who votes against? –Comments, additions or remarks 15

16 Eyes are a powerful communication medium Research by Agneta Fischer (2008), University of Amsterdam. Goal: Effect of the niqaab on mutual communication –119 participants –Three short movies - 3 conditions 1. Face completely visible 2. Face covered with niqaab 3. Only eyes visible Assumption: Better recognition of emotions when face is completely visible Result: In all conditions, emotions were perceived well –Condition 2: Negative emotions were perceived more intense –Condition 3: Happiness was perceived stronger 16

17 Conclusion Objections against facial coverage is primarily cultural in nature Fischer: “We find a niqaab just scary” Explanation: Western are used to communicate through facial expression. 17

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