Understanding Cross-Cultural Communication
A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES
explores 14 different ways--verbal and nonverbal--that two
people from different cultures can fail to understand each other.
Some of these differences reflect language and translation
problems. But many others involve subtle differences in etiquette,
gestures, values, norms, rituals, expectations, and other important
Cross-cultural communication can be difficult,
inaccurate, and highly stressful.
When we are immersed in an environment where the language,
attitudes, values, and behaviors are alien to our
own experience, we may suffer disorientation and frustration--an
experience known as "culture shock."
This is because culture affects almost all behaviors.
Culture governs how
close we stand while talking with another person. Culture
governs how we use (or avoid) eye contact. Culture governs
how we express (or suppress) powerful emotions such as
joy, disapproval, and anger. Culture even governs the
expression (if not the actual experience) of love, because
determines whether we feel free to express love in
public settings by
holding hands, hugging, or kissing the person we love.
"A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES: Understanding Cross-Cultural Communication"
examines 14 different facets--both verbal and nonverbal--of
misunderstanding. In each case, the power and
subtlety of cultural differences
is explored and illustrated.
As the video demonstrates, culture can be like
a veil that prevents us from understanding
people from other societies, and also prevents
them from understanding us.
The examples in A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES include
dramatic differences in personal space,
patterns of touch, etiquette and ritual,
the expression of emotions, ideas about
food, gestures, courtship
patterns, and parent-child relationships.
The people shown in the video
describe from their own experiences
important examples of culture conflict, and
how these differences have affected their
People who see A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES
will emerge with an enhanced understanding of
the number, variety, and tremendous power of cultural
differences. In addition,
the video is a powerful sensitizing device.
Viewers of A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES
will be able to improve their own cross-cultural communication
skills by learning the subtleties, nuances, and hazards involved
whenever individuals from two cultures meet.
What reviewers are saying about "A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES":
- "In my opinion, showing A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES to students is
likely to make a world of difference in them. This video will surely
affect those student perceptions and attitudes which make or break
encounters between people with different cultural experiences. It
speaks directly and forcefully to students by using the words and
experiences of their fellow students from around the world--with
an impact no instructor's lecture could duplicate. I'd feel a lot
better about the future of our planet if I knew every student in
school today had seen this video and discussed the issues it raises."
- --Mark L. Knapp, Jones Centennial Professor in Communication,
University of Texas, co-author "Nonverbal Communication and
- "A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES is an indispensable tool for the instructor who wishes
to explain the difficulties inherent in cross-cultural communication. The
videotape is fascinating and is sure to arouse and hold students' interest.
The accompanying Instructor's Guide offers a variety of innovative techniques
for using this tool in the classroom. Along with previous videotapes by
Prof. Dane Archer, A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES is bound to change the way nonverbal
communication is taught and understood."
- --Miron Zuckerman, Professor of Psychology, University of Rochester
- "This is a really wonderful introduction to the myriad problems of
intercultural communication. The many examples of real difficulties
experienced by people have charm and relevance. The net effect is a
funny, sensitive, and ultimately loving embrace of the varieties of
human cultural experience. Archer's technique of having real people
talk about what has happened to them works superbly in this film; what
might be just words on a page come to life through the empathy the viewer
feels for each speaker. The film has humor and sympathy, and it teaches
an ever more important lesson."
- --Judith Hall, Professor of Psychology, Northeastern University, Editor, "The Journal of Nonverbal Behavior."
- "Dane Archer has produced another winner! A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES is a must
for teachers of cross-cultural communication. Its entertaining vignettes
illustrate the variety of misunderstandings that occur when cultures
collide. For my students who plan to study abroad, I advise them to watch
Archer's video because it quickly alerts them to both the power and the
subtlety of cultural differences."
- --Lawrence T. White, Professor of Psychology, Beloit College
- "As with all Dane Archer's work, A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES
is as delightful as it is informative. Students will be
engaged and amused by the stories they will hear, stories
told by young travelers and immigrants whose experiences
demonstrate with both humor and poignancy the awesome breadth
of cultural variation, and the humbling arbitrariness of
many of our own cultural practices. Students who view
this film will be sensitized to the importance of appreciating
cultural differences--as well as to the awkwardness, hilarity,
and even peril that await the cross-cultural traveler who
fails to appreciate the differences. I see this film as widely
applicable, relevant to courses in psychology, sociology,
teacher-education, and, of course, anthropology."
- --Prof. Joshua Aronson, Prof. of Education, Univ. of Texas, Austin
- "As a teacher of a senior level World Communities high
school class, I am looking forward to showing Dane Archer's
video, A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES. The subject matter fits in
very well with the curriculum of my class and is, in fact,
a missing element I have long wished I had. The first hand
experiences related by the people in the film are humorous
while conveying the serious nature of miscommunications and
misunderstandings that often result from cultural ignorance.
The different nuances of culture are broken down into
easily understood segments."
"Also, the support documentation and activity ideas that
go along with the video are excellent. The teacher can use
the video as a springboard for more in depth cultural
comparisons and lessons described in the support materials
or as a self contained lesson to spark discussion and
expand the frame of reference of high school students.
All in all, I enjoyed the video very much and look forward
to sharing it with my department members and classes. It
- --Jason Dunlap, teacher of "World Communities" at Harbor High School, Santa Cruz, California