This study examines how the level of verbal aggressiveness and argumentativeness of Korean people is affected by chemyeon (roughly translated as “face”), a deeply pervasive Korean concept that pertains to one’s consciousness of how others perceive one’s performance, personality, and status. In particular, the relationship between chemyeon and Korean verbal aggressiveness was examined with regards to the type of argument taking place and the social status of one’s counterpart in the argument. All of these factors (i.e. chemyeon, type of argument, counterpart’s status) were found to have a decisive impact on the level of one’s verbal aggressiveness. Next, chemyeon was divided into social and personal chemyeon, and the interaction was again analyzed with regards to the aforementioned contextual variables. It was found that the effect of social chemyeon depended on the type of argument and the counterpart’s social status. Specifically, social chemyeon had a stronger effect on Koreans’ approach argumentativeness when the arguments concerned personal matters, as opposed to public. Also, it was observed that social chemyeon tended to increase the level of approach argumentativeness when the counterpart was of a lower social status. These results can be attributed to the characteristics of social chemyeon, which involves the need to meet social expectations and perform appropriately in public.
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