Behavioral categories of intercultural communication competence: Everyday communicators' perceptions

Judith N. Martin, Mitchell R. Hammer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


This paper reports the development of a behaviorally-based inventory of social skills related to impressions of communicative competence, grounded in the perceptions of everyday communicators. The study examined two variables: (a) the cultural context (inter vs. intra) and (b) the locus of the communication (speaker vs. other). Six hundred and two respondents were asked to imagine they had just completed a dyadic interaction, in one of four cultural contexts: with (a) another American, (b) an international student; nationality not specified, (c) a Japanese student, or (d) a German student. They were then asked to describe (a) what they would do and (b) what the other interactant would do in order to create a favorable impression and to be perceived as a competent communicator. Their responses were analyzed using standard content analysis procedures and four general dimensions emerged: one communicative function dimension and three specific behavioral dimensions (nonverbal, content/topic, and conversational management). Respondents identified 20-30 "behaviors" in each of these four dimensions that were fairly consistent for both loci (speaker, other). Most significant was the conceptual distinction made between the function dimension which comprised general statements of impressions (e.g., be friendly, be polite, show interest) and the other dimensions which comprised specific behaviors (smile, talk about topics of mutual interest, ask questions, etc.). Results also indicated that an additional set of competencies appears to be required for intercultural interactions, dealing with language difficulties and topic differences. The findings are examined in relation to previous research and their application to future research and training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-332
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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