Evaluation of politeness: Do the Japanese evaluate attentiveness more positively than the British?

Saeko Fukushima

This study investigates evaluation of attentiveness by British and Japanese university students. Attentiveness (kikubari) (defined as a demonstrator’s preemptive response to a beneficiary’s verbal/non-verbal cues or situations) is demonstrated without being requested and it is one of the important politeness strategies. A questionnaire including six attentiveness situations was distributed to 74 British and 138 Japanese participants, who were asked to evaluate the attentiveness situations on a five-point Likert scale and to state the reasons for their evaluation. The Likert-scale evaluations were analyzed using a three-way ANOVA and subsequently, the reasons for evaluations were analyzed qualitatively. It was anticipated that the Japanese would evaluate attentiveness more positively than the British, as attentiveness has been important in Japanese culture. The results, however, did not necessarily confirm this. That is, there were significant differences between British and Japanese participants in four situations, the British participants having evaluated attentiveness more positively than the Japanese participants in two situations and the reverse being the case in two other situations.

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