Title

An Examination of the Implications of Intrinsic Religiousness and Social Identification with Religion on Intercultural Communication Apprehension and Conflict Communication in the Context of Cultural Adaptation

Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Media and Communication

First Advisor

Stephen Croucher, PhD

Second Advisor

Alfred DeMaris, PhD (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Canchu Lin, PhD (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Lara Martin-Lengel, PhD (Committee Member)

Abstract

The study explored the influence of the strength of intrinsic religiousness and the strength of social identification with religion on intercultural communication apprehension, and the preference for various face concerns and conflict management styles. Specifically, the study looked at how the strength of intrinsic religiousness, the strength of social identification with religion, and the interaction between the strength of intrinsic religiousness and the strength of social identification with religion influenced stress levels during cultural adaptation and how stress levels in turn influenced intercultural communication apprehension, and the preference for face concerns and conflict management styles. Further, the study also tested the indirect effect of the strength of intrinsic religiousness, the strength of social identification with religion, and the interaction between the strength of intrinsic religiousness and the strength of social identification with religion on intercultural communication apprehension, and the preference for face concerns and conflict management styles by assessing the mediating impact of stress. The major focus of research in the area of intercultural communication has been to explore how religion, along with national origin and race, forms a cultural variable influencing intercultural communication and the adaptation process (e.g. Gordon, 1964; Hargreaves and Majoub, 1997; Y. Y. Kim, 1988). The study, while acknowledging that religion can have ethnic connotations associated with it, emphasizes the need to explore the implications of religion as an entity by itself. The increasing importance of religion as a factor influencing the course of events at the individual, national, and international level necessitates the adoption of such an approach. Two hundred and ninety respondents, consisting primarily of international students, study abroad students, and exchange students, were surveyed for the study. The data were analyzed using Pearson correlations and multiple regressions. The results of the study revealed that the strength of social identification with religion positively influenced stress levels, in the form of anxiety and depression, and stress levels positively influenced the level of intercultural communication apprehension; and stress, in the form of anxiety, indicated a greater preference for self-face concern as opposed to mutual-face concern. In addition, the study also found that the greater the stress level, the greater was the preference for the avoiding conflict style as opposed to the integrating conflict style. The test of mediation revealed that stress levels mediated the relationship between the strength of social identification with religion and the level of intercultural communication apprehension and the strength of social identification with religion and the preference for the avoiding conflict style. The main implication of the study is that the strength of social identification with religion is more influential in predicting communicative behaviors in the intercultural context in comparison to the intrinsic aspect of religiousness. In addition, the results of the study also imply that stress reduction is essential for engaging in effective intercultural communicative behaviors.