What are High Context Culture and Features of Low and High?

Curious to know about high context culture? With the fast development of globalization, many countries across the globe have become positively related to each other in many fields majorly in Culture. In this competitive world, everybody has many chances to communicate with others irrespective of different countries and cultures; thus, we can see intercultural communication frequently and in very common. Context and Cultures are the main components, which we can often see these days. Many countries have been divided into high-context cultures and low-context cultures (Hall cited in Singh, Zhao, and Hu 2005:135).

As Jandt (2004:61) mentioned, when different people from high-context cultures and low-context cultures meet, they will encounter many problems since other cultures may affect the understanding of communication in different ways. The main purpose of this work is to compare the variations between high-context cultures with low-context cultures and to perceive how different varieties of cultures react in different situations including language, time, personal space, and interpersonal relationships. It will also examine the problems occurring in the communication process between two cultures and try to provide recommendations and ways of overcoming the difficulties.

What is Culture?

To evaluate the influence of one’s Culture on the behavior within a team, a look at the definition of Culture is needed. Although there exist many reports of this term in the literature, the probably best known is that from Hofstede which says that Culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one social group from another culture, in this sense, includes systems of values. Values are among the building blocks of Culture. (Hofstede in Mead, 1998, p. 4).

Following this definition, someone’s culture can be seen as something individual to a particular group whose member’s behavior influences uniform and predictable ways (Mead, 1998). It is learned and passed on from one generation to the next and includes a specific system of values, norms, and behaviors (Mead, 1998).

Definition of Context

The context is often defined because the environment during which the communication takes place and which helps to elucidate the communication (Jandt 2004: 33). Dr. Edward Hall firstly put the idea of high-context and low-context cultures forward in 1976 (Jandt 2004:61). Culture is often either high context or low context, which is said to the way people communicating with one another. Jandt (2004: 61) defined high-context cultures, as a culture where the meaning of a message lies within the physical environment or is already shared by people thus people don’t get to say or write it more.

As Hall (1976 cited in Jandt 2004:61) stated in Beyond Culture, more information is required within the transmitted message in low-context cultures to form up for what’s missing within the context. The only specific countries of high-context cultures are Asian countries, including China, Japan, and Korea. The low-context cultures are often found in Switzerland, Germany, and North America, including us (Jandt 2004:62).

High Context Culture Definition
High Context Culture Definition

What is High Context Culture?

Anthropologist Edward T. Hall first considered high-context Culture in his 1976 book titled Beyond Culture. High-context cultures are those during which the systems of communication are primarily transmitted through the utilization of contextual factors (i.e., visual communication, an individual’s status, and tone of voice) and aren’t explicitly stated. This is often in contrast to low-context cultures, during which news is delivered primarily through language, and customs are expressly spelled out.

It is essential to notice that no culture is entirely high-context or low-context since all societies contain a minimum of some parts that are both high and low. For instance, while we may be a low-context culture, family gatherings (which are common in American Culture) tend to be high-context.

Members of high-context cultures normally have close relationships that last for an extended period. As a result of these years of interacting with each other, the members know what the principles are, the way to think, and the way to behave, therefore the rules don’t need to be explicitly stated. This makes high-context cultures asking to navigate for those that don’t know the Culture’s unwritten laws.

High Context vs Low Context Culture Characteristics 

Cultures typically cannot be organized strictly into either high or low context. Most cultures fall between the extremes on the spectrum and may share characteristics of both high and low context traits to varying degrees.

Although it is often a posh characteristic of whether a culture may be a high context or low context, it can determine many other aspects of a specific culture. For instance, during a high-context culture, the similarity is a crucial characteristic. This is often because the bulk of the population in high context cultures typically have an equivalent level of education, also as a shared ethnicity, religion, and history.

Through these shared experiences, messages are often contextualized by assuming an audience will think within the same way and follow the underlying message inherent in someone’s speech or writing.

In low-context cultures, the other is true. They’re usually diverse and specialize in the individual, rather than the group. Since there are numerous differences within a low-context culture, communication must be essential enough to permit as many of us to know it as possible.


Q: Why Is Japan a high context culture?
A: Japan is usually considered a high-context culture, meaning people communicate supported inherent understanding. Observation isn’t just watching people, but actively observing all the small print of nonverbal behaviors and communication, like facial expressions and gestures.
Q: Is Singapore a high context culture?
A: Singapore, on the opposite hand, maybe a high-context culture. In high-context cultures, the meaning is inferred from the context or setting rather than the words used.
Q: Is the UK a high context culture?
A: Like the Japanese and therefore, the Chinese Culture, British Culture may be a high context culture. Words aren’t enough; you’ve got to know the background and context to understand the message and interpret tone, expression, and non-verbal behavior.
Q: Is the USA a high-context culture?
A; For example, while we may be a low-context culture, family gatherings (which are common in American Culture) tend to be high-context. Members of high-context cultures usually have close connections that last for an extended period.
Q; Is China a high context culture?
A; China is taken into account a high context culture as communication tends to be indirect, and therefore the real message must be interpreted consistent with the context. If you neglect the importance of context in China, you increase the probabilities of confusion, confusion, and even conflict.


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