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Cross-cultural differencies: high and low context cultures

Different culturesThe topic on cross-cultural differencies is endless and we’ve prepared a new post!


According to anthropologist and cross-cultural researcher E. Hall all cultures differ on the criterion of the amount of information included in the message. Here is the example of high context message – a cite from a conversation between two close people “How can you say like this?”


Here is the example of low context message – a good guide telling you how to find an object which you’ve never seen in the place you’ve never been to.


It’s possible to judge on the type of culture (low context, high context) over the predominance of one type of messages or another.


High context cultures are as follows: Japan, Arabic countries, China, Korea, Vietnam, Mediterranean countries, the Middle East

Low context cultures: USA, the Great Britain, Scandinavian countries.


In a standart utterance of low context culture (Switzerlad, Germany, North America) the info which is necessary for correct understanding is concentrated in the verbal part of speech.

While the utterances of high context cultures (China, Japan) often demand the recognition of broad cultural context and generally it’s difficult to get the right understanding of the utterance using languistic signs only.


In high context cultures the human is the bearer of the info not the message itself. Communication is very general and it’s presupposed that a communicant or a reader are aware of the context and are able to underastand the message straight away.

The social links are not that close in low context cultures that’s why additional information is necessary in every message here.

This is the reason why common Europeans consider Japanese conversation full of vaguenesses and uncertainties while Japanese in their turn consider Europeans being too tactless and straightforward.


These cultural differences are the most powerful in talkoclock calls. Many people from low contex cultures don’t like to be called by high context culture people. Some think they are slow and it’s impossible to talk about something interesting or smart with them. Of course, it is not so. For people from low context cultures it’s harder to verbalize their thoughts and emotions. Because you don’t know their context. Besides, their languages are often more different from English than European ones. That’s why they also need to convert their thoughts in English. Please take it into account before judging people from these cultures!

Category: TOC News
  • Nathan King

    Helpful! I’m a low-context, I just thought those people were dumb. Now I know they’re high-context. No matter what, but I still prefer talking to my type. 

  • Janna Clock

    Probably those people you talked to didn’t speak English well, so you thought so. I’m also from a low-context culture, but I’ve talked to many Asian guys, who belong to high-context cultures. And it was very interesting!

  • Anwar

    that is true, you are so sweet
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