Predicting Effects of Demographic, Linguistic and Psychological Variables on University International Students’ Intercultural Communication Sensitivity

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  • Meihua Liu Tsinghua University



demographic variable, effect, intercultural communication sensitivity, linguistic variable, psychological variable


With globalization, intercultural communication plays an increasingly more important role in various fields, including business, transportation and education. It is the same with intercultural sensitivity (IS), a critical component of intercultural communication. Though much research has been done on IS, little can be found on effects of demographic, linguistic and psychological factors on learners’ IS simultaneously in the same context. Little research can be found on IS in learners of languages other than English either. For these reasons, the present study investigated the predicting effects of linguistic, psychological and demographic variables on university international students’ intercultural communication sensitivity when immersed in the Chinese culture. One hundred and sixty-seven international students studying in a Chinese university in Beijing answered the Intercultural Sensitivity Scale, the Willingness-to-Communicate in Chinese Scale as well as the Demographic Questionnaire, and self-rated their proficiency in Chinese. Analyses of the data revealed the following main findings: (1) the participants were generally (fairly) sensitive, confident, attentive and enjoyable in intercultural interactions and respected cultural differences when communicating with people from the Chinese culture, (2) interaction engagement, interaction confidence, and overall intercultural communication sensitivity were significantly positively related to the participants’ ability to effectively communicate with people from the Chinese culture; interaction engagement was also significantly correlated with the participants’ openness to the Chinese culture, and (3) ability to effectively communicate with people from the Chinese culture and use of Chinese were powerful positive predictors for intercultural communication sensitivity. These findings imply that intercultural communication sensitivity is closely related to learners’ linguistic, psychological and demographic variables. Based on these findings, some implications were discussed.


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How to Cite

Liu, M. (2019). Predicting Effects of Demographic, Linguistic and Psychological Variables on University International Students’ Intercultural Communication Sensitivity. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 6(3), 123–133.



Original Manuscript
Received 2019-08-03
Accepted 2019-11-11
Published 2019-12-18