Love Across Cultures: A Comparative Study of Verbal and Nonverbal Communication of Affection in Text Messages Among American and East Asian College Students

Yoonhye Kim, Yuka Tanaka, Asaka Minami, Eugene Jo, Zivana Ongko

Have you ever wondered why a simple text message can be interpreted differently by people from different cultures? We were curious about how cultural differences affect communication in romantic relationships and identify the causes of miscommunication among people from different cultural backgrounds. This study compares how college students from East Asian and American cultures express love through text messages and explores the cultural factors that contribute to these differences. The study surveyed 30 college students between 18-24 years old, consisting of 15 American students and 15 East Asian international students from China, Japan, and South Korea. Participants provided demographic information, self-reported love languages, and text message screenshots, and their language was analyzed as direct or indirect speech. Results showed that American students tend to express love through more direct language, using terms of endearment and direct declarations of love, whereas East Asian students use more indirect and implicit expressions of affection. The study highlights the cultural differences in the understanding of love and expressions of affection, shaped by norms, values, individualism, and collectivism. The findings suggest that cultural factors play a significant role in shaping linguistic expressions of love and the use of nonverbal cues in text messages.

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