The wai in thai culture: Greeting, status-marking and national identity functions

Academic Article


  • This study examined the role of the Wai from the perspective of people in Thailand. The Wai, the most common greeting used by natives of Thailand, consists of bringing one's palms together while bowing or dipping one's head. Data, gathered by having participants write an essay on the role of the Wai in Thailand, were subjected to content analysis. The analysis indicated that the Wai serves at least five functions in Thai society - utilitarian, status, nationalistic, personal enhancement, and religious functions. Subcategories of behaviors range from using the Wai to appease a bully to its use in religious rituals. These results reflect the complex nature of using and interpreting nonverbal behavior in a high context culture. The results also support the already well documented role of the Wai in terms of status.
  • Author List

  • Powell L; Amsbary J; Hickson M
  • Issue

  • 34