The Ideal Overseas Missionary: A Cross-Cultural Comparison

Volume 19
Summer 1991
The Ideal Overseas Missionary: A Cross-Cultural Comparison

The transition from home environment to an overseas culture is a difficult one for many overseas missionaries. Many efforts to facilitate cross-cultural adaptation have focused on selection and have assumed that some single ideal personality profile exists that marks the effective overseas missionary. Largely ignored in previous research are differences in personality that mark the effective missionary in different cultural settings. These differences were the focus of the present study. Eight-eight missionaries located in 11 overseas ministries rated an imaginary "€œideal missionary"€ on each of 25 traits. Factor analysis revealed that these 25 traits represented four orthogonal underlying trait factors, labeled "€œSocial Skill,"€ "€œPersonal Energy,"€ "€œOutspokenness,"€ and "€œTimidity."€ Significant cross-cultural differences were found between the 11 cultures on the latter two factors. Multi-dimensional scaling analysis suggested that the 11 ministries could be grouped into two broad clusters-"€œMoslem"€ and "€œEast Asian."€ These two culture clusters were found to differ significantly on the trait factor of "€œTimidity."€

Dr. G.M. Diekhoff, Dr. B.A. Holder, Dr. P. Colee, Dr. P. Wigginton and Dr. F. Ress
178 - 185
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