Manual Conflicts in Culture: Strategies to Understand and Resolve the Issues

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In the field of business and technical communication, scholars have called for research on dealing with cultural conflict for a long time. But the limited study on dealing with cultural conflicts, along with the current political context in the United States, calls for efforts to systematically address diversity issues and cultural conflict in our research and teaching practices. One obstacle to advance effective communication strategies on cultural conflict in business and technical communication is the lack of communication with other disciplines.

Through an interdisciplinary perspective, the current article introduces the concept of cultural conflict, examines strategy models to address cultural conflict in different fields, and provides an example on how to identify a strategy model to resolve cultural conflict in business and technical communication practices. This article concludes by emphasizing that there is not a best model that can be applied to handle cultural conflict in all circumstances and calling for research on exploring and identifying effective strategy models to resolve cultural conflict in business and technical communication practices.

Skip to main content. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication. Strategies for Managing Cultural Conflict: Vol 48, Issue 3, pp. Download Citation If you have the appropriate software installed, you can download article citation data to the citation manager of your choice. Via Email All fields are required.

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Send me a copy Cancel. Request Permissions View permissions information for this article. Article first published online: April 18, ; Issue published: Abstract Full Text References Abstract. Keywords cultural conflict , management of cultural conflict , social identity theory , social comparison theory , similarity attraction theory , cultural dimensions , models to address cultural conflict , Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity. Remember me Forgotten your password? Subscribe to this journal. Vol 48, Issue 3, Tips on citation download.

Academy of Management Review An International Journal 13 4: Google Scholar , Crossref. Journal of Applied Psychology Basic concepts of intercultural communication: Selected readings, Yarmouth, ME: If so, this may ultimately shed light on what types of individuals comply with cultural norms, resist them or react violently when the norms are threatened.

Just because cultures are different does not necessarily mean they will end up in conflict. Thus, while cultural differences may be a facilitating condition for conflict to occur, differences alone are insufficient. The same logic applies to biological differences: As noted above, cultures manifest a variety of mechanisms to instill and maintain their internal set of beliefs, which, when challenged, set in motion a series of physiological responses that prime individuals for violent action. Who engages in violence and who approaches conflict from the standpoint of negotiation?

Two papers in this issue examine brain responses across cultural groups already in conflict and provide important new insights into the cognitive processes evoked when individuals are forced to consider the perspectives and beliefs of someone that, in other circumstances, might be considered an enemy. The advantage of studying members of groups already in conflict is that they provide a cross-sectional snapshot of both cognitive and emotional responses to established in- and out-groups.

They theorize that these biases inhibit the individual's capacity to either mentalize about the states of mind of someone from the conflicting culture or empathize with their pain. Using Arab and Israeli subjects, they examine the neural circuits associated with processing poignant stories of members of the corresponding in- and out-groups.

If these longstanding cultural conflicts have resulted in an inability to empathize the pain of the opposing group, then, as Bruneau et al. Although a variety of behavioural metrics are consistent with warmer feelings towards the in-group, and less empathy for the out-group, the neuroimaging results suggest a more nuanced explanation.

7 Strategies for Overcoming Resistance to Change

Responses in brain regions associated with mentalizing were equally large for both Arab and Israeli participants reading about Israeli and Arab targets, but less so for a distant, third-party group South Americans. More than these labels, empathic responses may be driven by personal significance. This dovetails with Gelfand's results, suggesting that personal salience can be amplified by the construct of honour, especially as it can be shared.

Culture and Conflict

Another testbed of cultural conflict can be found in the USA between Democrats and Republicans, especially those who have strong party affiliations. Examining the issue directly, Falk et al. As they note, the election provides a focal point that increases the personal salience of whatever conflict is perceived between members of the two parties.

Thus, whatever differences exist between Democrats and Republicans, an election forces them into conflict because only one can win. Interestingly, they find that regions associated with mentalizing functions, especially the medial prefrontal cortex, were more active when taking the perspective of one's own candidate. Moreover, the effect was exaggerated in individuals who measured higher on scales of perspective taking.

One of the presumed impasses to negotiation between conflicted groups is the inability to see things from the other side. As Falk et al.


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If the ability to empathize with, or take the perspective of, someone from an out-group is reflected in the responsiveness of prefrontal circuits, then what about trusting them? In the trust game, participants are given an endowment of money, from which they can share with a trustee. The exchanges are anonymous, except that the participant is shown a picture of the partner's face before deciding how much to send. Racial bias can be measured by the difference in amounts of money sent to black versus white trustees.

Stanley finds that the ventral striatum activity correlates with the individual's race bias: Although striatal activity is typically related to the expected value of outcomes, growing evidence suggests that the striatum also signals the salience of the action itself [ 35 ]. This is consistent with Bruneau's findings that groups in conflict with each other are highly salient to each other.

It seems increasingly obvious that such an era is over. As we noted earlier, cultural differences do not always lead to conflict, but several factors on both a local and global scale have increased the likelihood of conflict. A vastly increased population means more people competing for limited resources, and the globalization of the economy means that local conflicts ripple throughout the world, affecting markets and distribution of raw materials.

Modern communication through text messaging, social networking and new Internet technologies ensure that news of conflict spreads almost instantly. Thus, where geographical remoteness previously had a strong role in keeping conflicts local, we are now in the situation where riots in Greece or Mumbai, for example, have immediate global consequences. Consequently, the two basic requirements for the initiation of cultural conflict—substantial differences in beliefs and active challenges to those beliefs—are now done electronically.

Physical proximity is no longer a necessary condition for the engagement of the biological requirements for conflict. Cultural conflicts are not simply the result of different traditions. Vertical, generation-to-generation forms of social structure and information hierarchies are breaking down and many, especially the young, are forming their identities in global, media-driven political cultures through horizontal peer-to-peer relationships that ignore historical and spatial constraints [ 36 ]. But whereas Internet communication and revivalist religious ideologies may increasingly serve as facilitators and vehicles for conflict, root causes may remain primitive and biologic.

When these basic goals are threatened, conflict is more likely. Many of the papers in this special issue deal with the way in which cultural differences map onto biological differences in the brain. We will set aside the question of causality and take these observations at face value. For example, biological differences in discount rates have direct implications for behaviour. All things being equal, a society in which individuals tend to have steeper discount rates will behave more impulsively. Just because there are biological differences does not mean they are immutable.

We know, for example, that individual discount rates can be altered by drugs. Unfortunately, most of the documented effects of drugs, such as tobacco, are associated with increased discount rates, making individuals even more impulsive [ 37 ]. However, given evidence for the close link between discount rates and foraging behaviour in animals, it is possible that even simple changes in human nutrition would affect an individual's behaviour on a societal scale.

Beyond calorie counts, how might different amino acids and fatty acids affect discount rates? Viewed through the lens of biology, dietary choices may be directly related to resource consumption, birthrates and violence simply by the effect of nutrition on the dopamine system and its discount rate for the future.

Another area for future inquiry is the possible effect of sacred values on discount rates. For example, people may perceive temporally distant but culturally significant events to actually feel closer in time than do more recent events, especially in contexts of group conflict: Evocation of these sentiments might have profound biological effects in the form of memory reactivation good and bad and physiological arousal, leading to fight or flight responses. Understanding these biological mechanisms helps us understand why one cultural group might be willing to invest in social infrastructure, while another wants to destroy it.

Ultimately, biological responses determine who is ready to engage in war, and who wishes to seek peace. As we begin to unravel the links between culture and biology, we are seeing how culture affects the brain. But what about the other direction? If the biology of the brain is changed, whether through diet, climate, chemicals or, inevitably, genetic engineering, will culture change? If, as we believe, culture and biology are yoked together, then future cultural conflicts will also play out biologically.

Some cultures will embrace ways to change their biology and, in the process, change their culture. Others will reject such engineering. As a preview of what to expect, we might look to the conflicts that took place and are still occurring over contraception. The development of the birth control pill in the s, set the stage for a full-blown cultural war over the right of women to control reproductive biology.

The biology of cultural conflict

Downstream cultural effects resulted in more women delaying marriage, going to college and entering the workforce [ 39 ]. The sooner we understand these relationships, the better position humankind will be in to mitigate these looming conflicts. We are grateful to Michael J. Prietula for comments on this manuscript.

National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Although culture is usually thought of as the collection of knowledge and traditions that are transmitted outside of biology, evidence continues to accumulate showing how biology and culture are inseparably intertwined.

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Cultural conflict and why biology matters In the most general sense, culture can be thought of as the knowledge, customs and traditions of a group of people [ 1 ], which systematically drive and channel collective dispositions of thoughts and behaviours into the future. Primitive drives We begin with the most primitive biologic processes linked to decision-making: Enforcement of cultural rules Social groups that affirm and maintain their identity through cultural rules must also have the means to enforce compliance.

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From differences to conflict Just because cultures are different does not necessarily mean they will end up in conflict. What does it mean? Acknowledgements We are grateful to Michael J. B , — The native mind and the cultural construction of nature. Varieties of religious experience: The political left rolls with the good and the political right confronts the bad: The outgroup homogeneity effect in natural and minimal groups. How biological is essentialism? In Folkbiology eds Atran S.

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Conflicts Culture Strategies Understand Resolve

A question of honor: Identity economics and the brain: Implicit signals in small group settings and their impact on the expression of cognitive capacity and associated brain responses. Social cognition in members of conflict groups: Ascribing beliefs to ingroup and outgroup political candidates: Human striatal activation reflects degree of stimulus saliency. NeuroImage 29 , — Toward a behavioral economic understanding of drug dependence: