Cultural communication styles and accuracy in cross-cultural perception: A British and Japanese study

Yumi Nixon (1), Peter Bull (2)
(1) 2 Department of Psychology, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK, United Kingdom,
(2) Department of Psychology, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK, United Kingdom


This study examines the effects of cultural communication styles on cross-cultural perceptual accuracy. In Experiment 1, the communication accuracy of British and Japanese participants was assessed within their own cultures and compared across five interpersonal contexts: age, competition, intimacy, kinship and status. The results showed that the British were significantly more accurate on intimacy scenes while the Japanese were significantly better on age, competition and status scenes. In Experiment 2, accuracy between cultures was compared. When British and Japanese participants viewed both British and Japanese scenes, the British were more accurate in the perception of kinship and status scenes while the Japanese were more accurate on intimacy scenes. The significance of the results is discussed in light of expressivity, perceptual sensitivity and social rules.

Full text article

Generated from XML file


Andersen, P. A. (1988). Explaining intercultural differences in nonverbal communication. In L. A. Samovar & R. E. Porter (Eds.), Intercultural communication: A reader. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Brislin, R. W., Lonner, W. J., & Thorndike, R. M. (1973). Cross-cultural research methods. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Brosnahan, L. (1998). Japanese and English gesture: Contrastive nonverbalcommunication. Tokyo: Taishukan Publishing.

Buck, R. (1984). The communication of emotion. New York: Guilford Press.

Costanzo, M., & Archer, D. (1989). Interpreting the expressive behavior of others: TheInterpersonal Perception Task. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 13 (4), 225-245. DOI:

Ekman, P. & Friesen, W. V. (1969). The repertoire of nonverbal behavior: Categories, origins, usage, and coding. Semiotica, 1, 49-98. DOI:

Ekman, P. & Friesen, W. V. (1971). Constants across cultures in the face and emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 17, 124-129. DOI:

Elfenbein, H. A., & Ambady, N. (2002a). On the universality and cultural specificity of emotion recognition: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 128 (2), 203-235. DOI:

Elfenbein, H. A., & Ambady, N. (2002b). Is there an in-group advantage in emotion recognition? Psychological Bulletin, 128 (2), 243-249. DOI:

Elfenbein, H. A., & Ambady, N. (2003a). When familiarity breeds accuracy: Cultural exposure and facial emotion recognition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85 (2), 276-290. DOI:

Elfenbein, H. A., & Ambady, N. (2003b). Cultural similarity’s consequences: A distance perspective on cross-cultural differences in emotion recognition. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 34 (1), 92-110. DOI:

Elfenbein, H. A., Mandal, M. K., Ambady, N., Harizuka, S., Kumar, S. (2002). Cross-cultural patterns in emotion recognition; Highlighting design and analytical techniques. Emotion, 2 (1), 75-84. DOI:

Halberstadt, A. G. (1983). Family expressiveness styles and nonverbal communication skills. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 8, 14-26. DOI:

Halberstadt, A. G. (1986). Family socialization of emotional expression and nonverbal communication styles and skills. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 827-36. DOI:

Halberstadt, A. G. (1991). Toward an ecology of expressiveness: Family socialization in particular and a model in general. In R. S. Feldman & B. Rime (Eds.), Fundamentals of nonverbal behavior. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hall, E. T. (1976). Beyond culture. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

Hall, E. T. (1983). The dance of life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-relatedvalues. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Hofstede, G. (1984). Culture’s consequences. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Kowner, R., & Wiseman, R. (2003). Culture and status-related behavior: Japanese and American perceptions of interaction in asymmetric dyads. Cross-Cultural Research: The Journal of Comparative Social Science. 37 (2), 178-210. DOI:

Magill-Evans, J., Koning, C., Cameron-Sadava, A., & Manyk, K. (1995). The child and adolescent social perception measure. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 19 (3), 151-169. DOI:

Matsumoto, D. (1989). Cultural influences on the perception of emotion. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 20, 92-105. DOI:

Matsumoto, D. (1991). Cultural influences on facial expressions of emotion. Southern Communication Journal, 56, 128-137. DOI:

Matsumoto, D. (1992). American-Japanese cultural differences in the recognition of universal facial expressions. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 23, 72-84. DOI:

Matsumoto, D. (1996). Unmasking Japan: Myths and realities about the emotions of the Japanese. California: Stanford University Press.

Matsumoto, D., & Ekman, P. (1988). Japanese and Caucasian Facial Expressions of Emotion (JACFEE) (slides). San Francisco, CA: Intercultural and Emotion Research Laboratory, Department of Psychology, San Francisco State University.

Matsumoto, D., Kasri, F., & Kooken, K. (1999). American-Japanese cultural differences in judgments of expression intensity and subjective experience. Cognition and Emotion, 13, 201-218. DOI:

Matsumoto, D., Kudoh, T., & Takeuchi, S. (1996). Changing patterns of individualism and collectivism in the United States and Japan. Culture & Psychology, 2 (1), 77-107. DOI:

Morsbach, H. (1988). Nonverbal communication and hierarchical relationships: The case of bowing in Japan. In F. Poyatos (Ed.), Cross-cultural perspectives in nonverbal communication. Toronto: C. J. Hogrefe.

Rosenthal, R., Hall, J. A., DiMatteo, M. R., Rogers, P. L., & Archer, D. (1979). Sensitivity to nonverbal communication: The PONS test. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. DOI:

Scherer, K. R., Koivumaki, J., & Rosenthal, R. (1972). Minimal cues in the vocal communication of affect: Judging emotions from content-masked speech. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 1 (3), 269-285. DOI:

Shimoda, K., Argyle, M., & Ricci, B. P. (1978). The intercultural recognition of emotional expressions by three national racial groups: English, Italian, and Japanese. European Journal of Social Psychology, 8, 169-179. DOI:

Stephan, C. W., Stephan, W. G., Saito, I., & Barnett, S. M. (1998). Emotional expression in Japan and the United States: The non-monolithic nature of individualism and collectivism. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 29 (6), 728-748. DOI:

Triandis, H. C. (1990). Cross-cultural studies of individualism and collectivism. In J. Berman (Ed.), Nebraska symposium of motivation, 1989. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Triandis, H. C., Bontempo, R., Villareal, M. J., Asai, M., & Lucca, N. (1988). Individualism and collectivism: Cross-cultural perspectives on self-ingroup n relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54 (2), 323-338. DOI:


Yumi Nixon (Primary Contact)
Peter Bull
Author Biography

Yumi Nixon, 2 Department of Psychology, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK

Yumi Nixon (BSc. University of York, United Kingdom) is a Ph.D. research student in the Department of Psychology at the University of York.  The present research was undertaken as part of her Ph.D. thesis. Peter Bull (Ph.D. University of Exeter, United Kingdom) is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of York.  He has 60 academic publications, principally in the form of articles in internationally recognized academic journals; he has also written several books, as well as a number of book chapters.  Most of his published output has been concerned with the analysis of interpersonal communication. He is the author of The Microanalysis of Political Communication: Claptrap and Ambiguity (2003), Communication under the Microscope: The Theory and Practice of Microanalysis (2002), Posture and Gesture (1987), Body Movement and Interpersonal Communication (1983), and co-editor (with Derek Roger) of Conversation: an Interdisciplinary Perspective (1989).

Nixon, Y., & Bull, P. (2006). Cultural communication styles and accuracy in cross-cultural perception: A British and Japanese study. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 6(2), 1–21.

Article Details

Smart Citations via scite_