Barnlund, D. C. (1975). Public and private self in Japan and the United States. Tokyo, Japan: The Simul Press.

Barnlund concentrates on relations such as the public and private self, verbal and nonverbal self-disclosure, and defense against disclosure of self. He bases his findings on results of tests he gave to representative samples of Japanese and American students.

Barnlund found that the proportion of the self that is shared with others, the public self, differs greatly between Japanese and Americans. The Japanese preferred social encounters in which the extent of thought and feeling shared with others was relatively small, while the proportion of facts about themselves not discussed was quite large. In other words, the Japanese are fairly repressed, private people who are afraid to reveal for public scrutiny much about their lives.

The Japanese prefer carefully regulated and predictable forms of conversations dealing with general topics in a fairly superficial manner, and they rarely have deep, heart-to-heart discussions even with their closest friends or relatives. Non-verbal communication such as touching is also very limited [preparer disagrees with this]. It is interesting to note that while Japanese are willing to discuss some personal topics with their close friends and mothers, they hardly ever have any encounters of any kind with their fathers. Fathers rarely exist within their personal views of life.

While the Japanese veil themselves in an atmosphere of secrecy, even when there is nothing to hide, Americans appear to express themselves across a wider variety of topics at a significantly deeper and more personal level. Americans prefer spontaneous and detailed forms of conversation, and when confronted with a major problem, they prefer assertive and expressive forms of defense, while Japanese, in keeping with their more guarded view of the self, prefer passive forms of defense that tend to reduce involvement.

Americans like to tell the world about themselves verbally or through touch, and they feel uneasy if someone is trying to hide something. But Japanese have an innate terror of exposing their souls to public view and will shy away from confrontations where the inner self can be exposed, Unlike the Japanese, Americans often have close communicative relationships with their fathers.

Consequently, it is fairly clear that verbal communication is far more important for Americans than Japanese. Words and other outward forms of communication mean a lot to Americans while Japanese seem to prefer non-verbal intuitive ways of making themselves understood. This is why Japanese value ritual, tradition and etiquette, far more than Americans.

When Japanese leave their own cultural confines, they occasionally become reckless, aggressive and brutal. They lose control over what they are doing and in warfare become deadly vicious fighters with little concern for the welfare of their enemy. Yet when they return to their own culture, they become passive and meek people again.

This latent aggressiveness is evident in the very violent nature of Japanese cartoons on television and in the sadistic sex comics. I suggest that you read this book. You would be missing something if you failed to read this brief but worthwhile book. = end =


DOs and DON'Ts --in Japan--

AT MEALS. DO talk a little at the table. DON'T get annoyed at Japanese people's making noises by sucking soup and chewing food with their mouth open. But smile a lot.

DO watch your host or hostess when in doubt as to which utensils to use or how to use them.

INVITATION. DO bring a small gift for the hostess. DON'T wait until the last minute to make reservations.

DO say "senjitsuWA gochisou sama deshita [Thank you for the treat the other day]" to the host or hostess the next day to show your appreciation for the dinner or invitation. DON'T drink before your guests arrive. (Usually Japanese guests arrive 15-25 minutes late, after the time of your appointment.)

DO send a reply as soon as possible.

DO be pleasant and courteous to people you meet. DON'T discuss business immediately. Make small talk first.

DON'T get angry and raise your voice; A smile can get you better service. Or put up with it and suffer silently.

DO be patient.

SOCIAL CIRCUMSTANCES. DO ask people for directions when you are lost. DON'T, however, count on people's directions 100%.

DO practice the language of the country. DON'T be discouraged.

DO mingle with people of the country. DON'T just hide in American community.

DO date men and women in the country in a which you are stationed. DON'T be shy and watch others have good time.

DO try to understand the country's customs. DON'T get annoyed at things that are different.

DO be vague!

DO wait to be offered a chair or sofa before sitting.

DO bow or nod and smile when introduced. DON'T extend your hand when introduced. (This, however, is OK when you are in a business situation.) Smile at children.

MISC.  Do call your immediate boss at work when you feel sick or you can't make it for the morning. DON'T sit in your room and suffer with illness.

DON'T hesitate to tell your boss about yourself, he or she might help you out by calling a doctor or prescribing drugs appropriately. DO report any robbery or attempted robbery immediately.

= end =