Intercultural Communication/INT

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Identity Negotiation according to Dr. Stella Ting-Toomey[edit | edit source]

Stella Ting-Toomey applied the concept of Identity Negotiation on the field of intercultural communication. Based on her cross-cultural-face-negotiation-theory, Ting-Toomey argued that identity negotiation is the precondition for successful intercultural communication.

Ting-Toomey argues that the effective identity negotiation process depends on various aspects which influence each other and therefore determine the degree to which an individual is able to manage intercultural communication. In her theory Ting-Toomey states that every human being has so called “multiple self identity images” like for instance cultural, social or personal identity images which exert influence both on peoples` communicative motivation and the sense of identity coherence which is also resultant from a low or rather high personal self-esteem. Beside the motivation to communicate and a person’s identity coherence, cognitive, affective as well as behavioural resourcefulness additionally affect the negotiation process: How mindful is a person? To what extent are people able to manage reactive emotions or the self-esteem? According to Ting Toomey all those aspects have impact on the process of identity negotiation. Moreover this process does not only involve interactive identity confirmation but also coordination a well as interactive identity attunment, which can be seen as essential precondition for successful intercultural communication.

Ting-Toomey emphasized that “the effective identity negotiation process between two interactants in a novel communication episode” is an important basis for intercultural communication competence. Therefore, Ting-Toomey postulates eight assumptions:

  • Everyone has multiple images concerning a sense of self;
  • Cultural variability influences the sense of self;
  • Self-identification involves security and vulnerability;
  • Identity boundary regulation motivates behavior;
  • Identity boundary regulation involves a tension between inclusion and differentiation;
  • Individuals try to balance self, other, and group memberships;
  • Managing the inclusion-differentiation dialectic influences the coherent sense of self and;
  • A coherent sense of self influences individual’s communication resourcefulness (i.e., “the knowledge and ability to apply cognitive, affective, and behavioral resources appropriately, effectively, and creatively in diverse interaction situations”.

Ting-Toomey included 20 propositions in the identity negotiation theory:

  • The more secure individuals’ self-identifications are, the more they are open to interacting with members of other cultures. (P1)
  • The more vulnerable individuals feel, the more anxiety they experience in these interactions. (P2)
  • Individuals’ vulnerability is affected by their needs for security. (P3)
  • The more individuals need inclusion, the more they value ingroup and relational boundaries. (P4)
  • The more individuals need differentiation, the more distance they place between the self and others. (P5)
  • Individuals’ resourcefulness in negotiating identities is affected by effectively managing the security-vulnerability (P6)
  • and inclusion-differentation dialectics. (P7)
  • The more secure individuals`self-identifications, the greater their identity coherence (P8) and global self-esteem. (P9)
  • The greater individuals’ self-esteem (P10) and the greater their membership collective esteem (P11), the more resourceful they are when interacting with strangers.
  • Individuals`s motivation to communicate with strangers influences the degree to which they seek out communication resources (P12)
  • The greater individuals`cognitive (P13), affective (P14), and behavioural resourcefulness (P15), the more effective they are in identity negotioation.
  • The more diverse individuals` communication resources are, the more effective they are in interactive identity confirmation (P16), coordination (P17), and attunement (P18).
  • Finally, the more diverse individuals` communication resources, the more flexible they are in “co-creating interactive goals”(P19) and “in developing mutual indentity meanings and comprehensibility”(P20) (Ting Toomey, 1993, p.110)

References[edit | edit source]

  • Ting-Toomey, S. (1993). Communication resourcefulness: An identity-negotiation perspective. In R. Wiseman & J. Koester (Eds.), Intercultural communication competence (pp. 72-111). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Further Reading[edit | edit source]