Acquiring cultural knowledge through passive exposure.
Date of Issue2006
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Past research has shown that people register frequency of occurrence of events automatically and they have very accurate knowledge about the relative social distribution of knowledge in their own community. For example, the percentage of Singaporean who would know who George Bush is or the percentage of Singaporean who would know who Condoleezza Rice is? Not just so, in our research, we found that people would make use this knowledge when they formulate messages for someone from their own community. They would provide more information to the audience to identify the referent when they perceive the referent as unfamiliar to the audience in the community, whereas they would provide less information to the audience when they perceived the referent as familiar to the audience in the communcity. The aim of the present research is to study whether passively exposing someone to referents from a foreign culture would transiently increase the estimated familiarity of the referents in the foreign culture and hence affect individuals' message formulation. As past research uses referents which distribution are already established in the community? the causal relationship between frequency of occurrence of the event in a culture estimated familiarity of the referent and message formulation has not been tested. This is the first study to test the causal relationship among these variables and the first study to apply this to understand intercultural communication process.