When conveying a message may hurt the relationship: Cultural differences in the difficulty of using an answering machine

Cultures differ in their emphasis on the two core functions of communication, conveying information and maintaining the relationship. Because answering machines primarily serve the former function, their use may show cultural differences. Leaving a message is cognitively more taxing for Japanese than Americans, as indicated by poorer performance on a secondary task (Study 1). This performance decrement reflects that Japanese allocated more cognitive resources to tailoring the message to the recipient, consistent with their culture's higher emphasis on relationship goals. Such cross-cultural differences were not restricted to the laboratory situation. Although equally likely to own an answering machine, Japanese reported a higher rate of hanging up when reaching an answering machine than Americans (Study 2). The difficulties that Japanese experience when leaving a message on an answering machine are partly due to the lack of feedback channel. Theoretical implications are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved) (from the journal abstract)