Research Summary

When Cultural Worlds Collide: Investigating the Cross-Cultural Multiple Audience Problem



Today, many individuals have social networks that span cultural boundaries. For example, you may have a network of colleagues in China, friends and family in the U.S., and a group of childhood friends in Greece. Chances are, you are probably comfortable interacting with each of these groups separately. But what happens when your different cultural worlds come together? 

In this project, I examine the behavioral and affective responses to the collision of cultural worlds. I find that this is an anxiety-provoking situation that causes many individuals to become paralyzed or withdraw. Since individuals adjust their behavior (and in some cases, their identities) in the presence of others from different cultural groups, the simultaneous presence of multiple cultural groups makes it difficult to adhere to one cultural schema and raises concerns about being perceived as inconsistent or even inauthentic. 

Using qualitative and quantitative methods, I explore this phenomenon across various contexts, including social gatherings (e.g., multicultural wedding receptions), professional collaborations (e.g., cross-cultural joint ventures), and in online platforms (e.g., Facebook).

Keywords: cross-cultural networks; multiple audience problem; managing multiple identities;