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Cultural Differences in Uncertainty Reduction - Essay Example

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Cultural Differences in Uncertainty Reduction

The basic difference between high context cultures and low context ones is that while high context cultures view communication as a means for social bonding, low context cultures see it as a means for information transmission. As a result people while people from these varied cultural backgrounds are faced with anxiety when dealing with strangers, the manner in which they tackle the issue is rather different. Charles Berger's Uncertainty Reduction Theory deals with this concept of 'uncertainty' and focuses on how different aspects of communication can increase or decrease our uncertainty level about others
Uncertainty reduction is all about understanding a stranger and being able to predict and explain his/her behaviour in a given context. (Griffin, 2006)The first part of this paper focuses on Charles Berger's uncertainty reduction theory and how this theory is important to our understanding of communication between cultures.
The second part of the paper discusses the issue of cultural differences between societies and individuals. This section will describe the various characteristics of high and low context cultures and how they try to reduce uncertainty while dealing with strangers.
Expanding on Berger's theory,. ...
Expanding on Berger's theory,. William Gudykunst and his colleagues found out that all cultures seek to reduce anxiety and uncertainty in the initial stages of the relationship, but they do so in different ways (Littlejohn & Foss, 2004). The difference can be explained by whether one is a member of a high-context culture or low-context culture.

Central to the uncertainty reduction theory, which was originally formulated by Charles Berger, is the assumption that when strangers meet, their primary concern is one of uncertainty reduction or increasing predictability about the behavior of both themselves and others in the interaction (Wright, 2000). The original formulation of uncertainty reduction theory in initial interactions posited seven axioms and 21 theorems which specify the interrelations among uncertainty, amount of communication, nonverbal affirmative expressiveness, information seeking, intimacy level of communication content, reciprocity, similarity, and liking (Gudykunst, 1985). The seven axioms that Berger uses to reinforce his theory are; as verbal communication increases, the level of uncertainty decreases; uncertainty causes increased levels of information seeking; high levels of uncertainty result in low levels of self disclosure; uncertainty causes increased levels of reciprocity; similarities decreases uncertainty whereas dissimilarities increase uncertainty; and high levels of uncertainty causes a decrease in liking whereas low levels of uncertainty increase liking (Wright, 2000).

Charles Berger's Uncertainty reduction Theory focuses on how human communication can be used to gain knowledge and create understanding. (Griffin, 2006) . Uncertainty reduction follws a three step pattern of developmental stages namely, entry personal and exit. At ...Show more


The most universal quality" was the term Montaigne used to describe diversity.(Le Baron, 2003). It is this diversity in people and cultures and makes interaction between individuals and communities an exciting phenomenon. An element of uncertainty is prevalent when we meet new people, and this uncertainty makes the experience both exciting, and nerve wracking…
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Cultural Differences in Uncertainty Reduction essay example
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