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Publication Date

3-2003

Abstract

The topic of this chapter is the social psychology of cross-cultural interaction. We discuss the psychological processes that take place during and after meetings between individuals and groups who differ in their cultural backgrounds. We identify two types of cross-cultural contact: a) meetings that occur between two societies when individuals travel from their place of origin to another country for a specific purpose and a limited amount of time, such people being called sojourners in the literature; and b) meetings within multi-cultural societies among its ethnically diverse permanent residents. Contact with culturally unfamiliar people and places can be unsettling, and the term "culture shock" is frequently used to describe how people react to novel or unaccustomed situations. Although the unknown can be terrifying, we nevertheless argue that "culture shock" is not inevitable, or for that matter as widespread as is often suggested. Indeed, in many circumstances culture contact can be a satisfying experience. We draw on the ABC model of culture contact to provide a framework for the discussion, that is, we distinguish between the Affective, Behavioural and Cognitive components of cross-cultural interaction. In the chapter we describe the conditions that determine whether the contact will have positive or adverse consequences, and the psychological techniques that can be deployed to increase cross-cultural understanding among the individuals, groups and societies in contact.

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