Face-Negotiation theory refers to Stella Ting-Toomey's theory which is a type of cross-cultural theory. It tries to explain differences between cultures. Specifically, the theory tries to explain differing approaches to conflict.

It bases these differences on the differences in cultures, distinguishing between individualistic and collectivistic orientations, or what is termed high-context and low-context cultures. Ting-Toomey assumes that people of every culture are always negotiating "face". The term is a metaphor for our public self-image, the way we want others to see and treat us. The ways which various cultures view "face" and their individual role in "face-work" will determine the approach to conflict management. The other pages in this site will explain the details of the theory more fully. It may help to think of the individualistic, "me centered" culture that Americans are part of when low-context cultures are discussed. Typical examples of high-context cultures are the Japanese, Chinese, and other groups which are highly "other oriented." independent self According to face-negotiation theory, the self-construal of individuals who conceive of themselves as relatively autonomous from others; I-identity.


Face Negotiation Theory is a theory first postulated by Stella Ting-Toomey in 1985 to explain how different cultures manage conflict and communicate. The theory has gone through multiple iterations since that time, and has been updated most recently in 2005.1 In essence, the theory explains that the root of conflict is based on identity management on an individual and cultural level. The various facets of individual and cultural identities are described as faces. Faces are the public image of an individual, or group, that their society sees and evaluates based on cultural norms and values. Conflict occurs when that group or individual has their face threatened. There are many different strategies and factors affecting how cultures manage identity. Ting-Toomey argues that in collectivist cultures, the face of the group is more important than the face any individual in that group. In individualist cultures, the face of the individual is more important than the face of the group.2 Furthermore, there are small and large power distances associated with each culture. A small power distance culture believes that authority is earned, power is distributed equally, and everyone’s opinion matters. The individual is highly valued. In large power distance cultures, authority is inherited, power is from top to bottom, and the boss is infallible. The good of the group is valued. Face negotiation theory operates on the following set of assumptions and rules.

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