ERIC Number: ED184909
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1976
How Culture Shock Affects Communication.
Barna, LaRay M.
The paper defines the term "culture shock" and discusses the changes that this state can make in a person's behavior. Culture shock refers to the emotional and physiological reaction of high activation that is brought about by sudden immersion in a new culture. Because one's own culture shields one from the unknown and reduces the need to make choices or defend values, entrance into a new culture takes the body out of its resting state and the tension level (physical and mental readiness to cope with the situation at hand) rises. Physiologically, new stimuli that can't be classified signal to the cortex of the brain an alteration in the environment. An orientation response is triggered; extra adrenalins and nonadrenaline pour into the system, general muscle tone rises, pupils of the eyes dilate, sense organs are directed toward the incoming stimuli, and hands sweat. If the tension level is prolonged, fatigue and feelings of anxiety result. The body becomes ill unless conscious or unconscious protective measures are taken. Common symptoms of culture shock include withdrawal or a hostile and aggressive attitude, a longing for home, abnormal concern over minor things, compulsive actions (hand washing, letter writing), poor memory, and fits of anger over minor frustrations. Suggestions for reducing culture shock include preconditioning oneself by associating with international groups, looking toward a global frame of reference based on trust, and practicing body awareness to detect changes which signify a stress reaction. (Author/KC)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented in the Distinguished Scholar's Program at the Communication Association of the Pacific Annual Convention (Kobe, Japan, June 19-20, 1976).