Many Japanese perceive communication with non-Japanese as an unpleasant experience and tend to avoid it. To account for this "foreigner-complex", scholars have advanced a number of explanations based on Japan's isolation, linguistic barriers, and the interpersonal shyness of the Japanese people. Using two surveys, this article seeks to provide a supplementary approach to Japanese communication difficulties with foreigners and Westerners in particular: That is, the problem of status violation. The present study shows that in an encounter with foreigners of equal status, Japanese perceive the communication style of their counterparts not only as highly distinct from their own, but also as similar to the communication style of high-status Japanese in an encounter with lower-status compatriots. Based on these findings, it is argued that during intercultural encounters Japanese tend to feel that their social status is violated, to propagate this feeling through their culture, and ultimately to dislike and to be apprehensive about such encounters.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported in part by a grant from the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. The author thanks Sasaki Yuji, Kato Katsunori, Teresawa Takafumi, Aoyama Masahiko and Elyasaf Kowner for their assistance in conducting the empirical part of this study.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business and International Management
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science