A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Argument Predispositions in China: Argumentativeness, Verbal Aggressiveness, Argument Frames, and Personalization of Conflict

Abstract

China has a longstanding tradition of stressing the values of harmony and coherence, and Chinese society has often been portrayed as a culture in which conflict avoidance is viewed more positively than direct confrontation and argumentation. In order to evaluate the validity of this claim, this paper sketches Chinese people’s feelings and understandings about interpersonal arguing by reporting results of a data collection in China, using measures of argumentativeness, verbal aggressiveness, argument frames, and personalization of conflict. These results were compared to those from a US sample. Chinese and US data differed in complex ways, but did not show Chinese respondents to be more avoidant. The Chinese correlations among variables were a reasonable match to expectations based on Western argumentation theories, although they did not replicate the US results precisely. The paper offers evidence that Chinese respondents had a more sophisticated understanding of interpersonal arguing than their US counterparts, and were more sensitive to the constructive possibilities of face-to-face disagreement.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their criticisms, which are very helpful for us to improve the paper. Yun Xie would like to acknowledge the support from the National Social Science Fund Projects (13CZX063), (13&ZD186), and the Chinese MOE Project of Key Research Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences at Universities (12JJD720006).

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Correspondence to Yun Xie or Dale Hample.

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Xie, Y., Hample, D. & Wang, X. A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Argument Predispositions in China: Argumentativeness, Verbal Aggressiveness, Argument Frames, and Personalization of Conflict. Argumentation 29, 265–284 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10503-015-9352-8

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Keywords

  • Argument predispositions
  • China
  • Cross-cultural analysis
  • Interpersonal arguing