Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Communication Studies

Department or School/College

Department of Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Alan Sillars

Commitee Members

Christina Yoshimura, Paul Silverman


Collective Privacy Boundary Turbulence, Face Threat, Facework Strategies, Korean Confucianism, Privacy Rules


University of Montana


This study examined individuals’ perceived face threat and appropriateness of facework strategies when people witness one of their family members discloses family secrets to others. The disclosure of family secrets was framed as a face threatening situation where family’s collective privacy rules were violated (i.e., collective privacy boundary turbulence). Korean college students (N = 435) and U.S. college students (N = 343) completed the surveys. Participants were randomly assigned to evaluate one of eight hypothetical scenarios associated with the disclosure of family secretes. The scenarios reflected two cultural-level variables: an in-group and an out-group distinction and hierarchical relationships. The results showed that both Korean and U.S. participants perceived greater face threat when family secrets were disclosed to an out-group member than an in-group member. Korean participants perceived greater face threat than U.S. participants, regardless of the target of disclosure. Both Korean and U.S. participants perceived integrating facework as the most appropriate and dominating facework as the least appropriate facework strategies. Korean participants perceived dominating facework strategies as more appropriate than U.S. participants. Other findings showed self-construal that is culturally salient (Korean’s interdependent and U.S. American’s independent) was a predictor of facework strategies. Individual-level power distance better predicted Korean participants’ facework strategies than those of U.S. participants. This study revealed more cultural similarities than cultural differences in perceived face threat and facework strategies between Korean and U.S. cultures. This study also provided insight on critical methodological issue (cultural correction of mean scores) in cross-cultural research in communication.

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