Effective Methodologies in Cross-Cultural Research

Yelena Belyaeva-Standen, Saint Louis University

This paper presents a concise analysis of several methods of data collection and data analysis that proved to be most efficient in cross-cultural study of Russian and American communicative styles. Several of these methods were already briefly described in my earlier publications (Belyaeva 1996, Belyaeva Standen 2001, 2004); others will be introduced in this paper. I will also give a summary of the methodological findings in the most recent cross-cultural research by Russian linguists (Isseris 2003, Sternina and Sternin 2003, Tsurikova 2002)

I will begin with a general overview of a three-tiered system of data collection that I developed for my cross-cultural pragmatic research of speech acts. The methodological objective of this system is to compile a complete and representative list of syntactic variables that are used to express a particular speech act as well as to provide a pragmatic interpretation of speech act strategies by native and non-native speakers. This system allows obtaining sufficient data for further examination and discussion from a cross-cultural point of view. Then, I will describe in details each part of the three-tiered system that includes collecting an adequate pool of examples through observation, elicitation, interpretation and reflection.

The three-tiered methodology of drawing the data provided potent foundation for discussion and interpretation of culture-specific strategies favored by Russian and American native speakers in certain speech acts. Based on this interpretation, we can make predictions about possible negative cultural transfer in communicating with non-native speakers. It also allows getting a close insight into the mechanism of creating national stereotypes and prejudices.

The methodological issues discussed in the paper will be illustrated by numerous examples and citations from interviews with Russian and American native speakers who have ample cross-cultural experience.


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Belyaeva-Standen, Yelena. “Smiles and Offers: Russian and American Cultural Scripts.” Vestnik Piatigorskogo gosydarstvennogo lingvisticheskogo universityta, 4 (2001): 26-34.

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Isseris, O.S. Kommunikativnye strategii i taktiki russkoi rechi. Moscow: URSS, 2003.

Sternina, Marina and Josif Sternin. Russian and American Communicative Behavior. Voronezh: Istoki, 2003.

Tsurikova L.V. Problema estestvennosti diskursa v mezhkul’turnoi kommunikatsii. Voronezh: Voronezh University Press, 2002.