Master of Arts
In today’s globalized society with intense interaction between and among cultures, cross cultural understanding is becoming of crucial importance for successful communication. Whenever there is communication among people from different cultures, disagreement, argument and interpersonal conflict may occur. For this reason, the study of cultural differences in conflict resolution is of great value to society at large. Yet, the number of studies that have examined conflict resolution approaches across cultures is insufficient.
This study sought to contribute to this area of research by investigating conflict resolution strategies employed by US and Taiwanese college students in academic contexts and the motives underlying participants’ preferences for certain strategies. The US and Taiwanese samples were chosen as representative of two different cultures, individualistic and collectivistic, respectively. Specifically, 15 US college students and 15 Taiwanese college students were selected from a US college campus. The Taiwanese group included students who have spent less than one year in the United States.
The instrument consisted of a written questionnaire with four conflict scenarios and an audio-recorded interview with six randomly selected participants from both groups. The data were analyzed through descriptive statistics, Discriminant Function Analysis and content analysis. Both the descriptive and the Discriminant Function analyses showed that the US college students were significantly associated with the use of direct or avoidance conflict resolution approaches, while the Taiwanese college students showed a significantly higher inclination towards an indirect approach often involving a third party. The qualitative results revealed that the motives underlying the participants’ responses stemmed from both cultural and personal factors, such as individualistic and collectivistic values as well as family and religious background.
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