Members of WACC (Working and Communicating across Cultures research interest group) are editing a special issue of the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. They are seeking abstracts for potential inclusion in the special issue. Full details are given below.

Norms and the assessment of communication contexts:
multidisciplinary perspectives

Guest editors: Helen Spencer-Oatey, Katharina Lefringhausen, Carolin Debray and Thomas Greenaway

There is increasing acknowledgement by psychologists and interculturalists that the ways in which culture influences people’s behaviour is likely to be affected by characteristics of the situation. As both Fischer (2011) and Smith (2003) point out, this has implications for our research agendas. Yet there have been very few studies that have taken this direction. In this special issue, we propose addressing this challenge from a multidisciplinary perspective, with a focus on communication contexts and the norms associated with people’s assessments of those contexts.


Recent cross-cultural research has moved from a primary focus on values to increased attention to cultural practices, including the descriptive, injunctive and intersubjective norms associated with these practices. For communication, however, an important element has been omitted: the specific situational contexts in which the communication practices take place. This is a serious omission because situational contexts significantly influence what people say or do, the manner in which they do this, and the ways in which others interpret their (verbal) behaviour. There is likely to be cultural variation in the ways in which people make assessments of given situational contexts yet there has been very little cross-cultural research on this issue.


Linguists have identified two key elements of the situational context that particularly influence communication practices: the type of communicative event and the role relationship(s) of the participants of the event. For instance, what are lectures like in China compared with the UK? What is the physical setting like? What about procedures - can students ask questions during the lecture? Or how hierarchical is the relationship between professors and students? Do they usually meet socially out of class?


People make assessments of contextual features such as these and take them into account when deciding what to say and how to say it. Yet there has been very little empirical research on people’s assessments of these communication contexts and the cultural norms associated with them. The purpose of this special issue is to draw together multidisciplinary theory and methodological research to address this gap.


We invite papers from relevant disciplines – notably, from cross-cultural psychology, pragmatics/sociolinguistics, and international business – on issues relating to this, including but not limited to the following:

Call for abstracts

To submit a paper for publication consideration in this special issue, please submit a 2-page (single-spaced) extended abstract by 30 June 2017, using our online form (see top right of this webpage). The Editors of the special issue will review the abstracts and invite submission of the full manuscript for the selected papers. The deadline for submission of the full manuscript is 10 November 2017.


Contributors should note that this call is open and competitive; submitted full papers will be reviewed in the usual way via the Manuscript Central protocol employed by JCCP. Submitted papers must be original manuscripts that are not under consideration by any other outlet.