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Cultural differences in politeness as a function of status relations : comparing South Korean and British communicators.

Moon, C. and Uskul, A. K. and Weick, M. (2019) 'Cultural differences in politeness as a function of status relations : comparing South Korean and British communicators.', Journal of theoretical social psychology., 3 (3). pp. 137-145.


Although politeness is an important concern in communications across cultures, a prevalent assumption in psychology is that East Asians are more inclined to be polite than members of other cultural groups due to prevalent cultural norms. Yet, evidence for this assumption is mixed. The present research examined this issue by considering the role of social hierarchy in interpersonal communications of Korean and British participants (N = 220) using an experimental task that involved writing an email to decline a request made by a junior or a senior person. The results showed that Korean participants’ emails were more polite when addressing a senior colleague compared with a junior colleague in work contexts. In contrast, recipient status did not impact British participants’ politeness. Crucially, cultural differences in politeness only emerged when participants addressed a senior colleague, but not when participants addressed a junior colleague. We discuss the implications of these findings and directions for future research.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Moon, C., Uskul, A. K. & Weick, M. (2019). Cultural differences in politeness as a function of status relations: Comparing South Korean and British communicators. Journal of Theoretical Social Psychology 3(3): 137-145, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.
Date accepted:13 October 2018
Date deposited:19 October 2018
Date of first online publication:28 November 2018
Date first made open access:28 November 2019

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