Just Say no: American and Japanese Styles of Refusing Unwanted Sexual Advances

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To determine whether cultural and gender differences in directness of communication are reflected in styles of refusing unwanted sexual advances, we surveyed American college students and Japanese international college students about direct and indirect ways of saying “no” in dating relationships. While both American and Japanese students said they would rather use indirect refusal tactics than direct ones, Americans rated direct strategies as more likely to be effective than did Japanese participants. Further, American students interpreted direct strategies as clearer refusals than indirect strategies, whereas Japanese respondents did not make this distinction. Men and women responded similarly in both cultural groups, so the findings point primarily to possible cultural differences in the meaning of direct refusals of sexual advances.

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Journal of Applied Social Psychology, v. 29, issue 5, p. 889-902