What do my scores means?


If your Low Context score is larger than your High Context score -- it suggests that you have a tendency to be direct, be concerned with facts, and might tend to screen out various elements of a context such as emotional tone.  

If your High Context score is larger than your Low Context score -- it suggests that you are more likely to be keenly aware of nonverbal communication going on around you and tend towards indirectness, avoiding open conflict, and consider maintaining relationships at least as important as "getting the job done."

If your scores for High and Low Context are relatively close together -- it suggests that you have integrated aspects of both approaches and can use one or the other as the situation requires, although this may also indicate that you might not be totally comfortable in either strongly Low or High cultural contexts.


What does the difference between my scores mean?


To indicate how strong your preference is, we calculated the difference between your two scores for High and Low Context by subtracting your lower score from your higher.

By taking the inventory you already have some idea which of the contexts you prefer. The larger the number, the more strongly and consistently you feel about using either a High or a Low context style of communication.

Possible scores range from 1-40, but most people fall somewhere between those extremes. However, the significance of this score lies in the fact that a person whose High Context and Low Context scores differ by 11 points or more might have difficulty interacting with another person whose scores differ by a similar number (11+) in the other direction (one personís scores favoring High Context and the other personís scores favoring Low Context).

The reasons for this lie in the different ways each will automatically approach an exchange of views or to conduct a meeting. When studying abroad, US-American students may find themselves immersed in cultural settings which assume a different set of communication values (e.g., Japan and Columbia are far more High Context than the U.S., while Germany and Finland are considerably more Low Context). It is good to know something about this before one arrives.

Once one recognizes not only that all humans have such preferences and that some significant differences are likely to exist between individuals in any work or social setting, the next step is to move from awareness to action. Look again at the characteristics for High and Low Context communicators that introduced this section and consider the following questions.

  1. How might knowing your preferred communication style be useful to you in intercultural situations?

  2. What is the dominant communication style of groups you have grown up with or interact most with now? Under what circumstances are you most comfortable communicating?

  3. When you feel uncomfortable communicating in certain situations, do you ever consider that the problem might be the way some people are expressing themselves, rather than a personal reaction to individuals?

  4. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of both High and Low context communication styles?

  5. What differences in communication style are you likely to encounter when studying abroad, and how are you going to react to them? What can you do to prepare to communicate more effectively with someone who has a different style?


  INSIGHT .. !     Remember... few cultures and the people in them, are totally at one end of the spectrum or the other. They usually fall somewhere in between and may have a combination of high and low context characteristics.