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How to Use the Worldview and Profiling Instruments
Orville Boyd Jenkins

Worldview investigation and profiling of people groups (ethnolinguistic groups and their segments) is critical for understanding cultures and developing a cross-cultural communication strategy.  The variety of resources available may be confusing.  There are several approaches and formats.  The forms themselves are not definitive, and many agencies have good, workable forms or outlines.

In this resource set, we provide five documents we recommend and provide here, which offer sound, standard formats designed for ethnographic integrity as well as ease of use.  

Other forms or guides may be used by various teams or individuals.  These two, however, are the standards being recommended.  I'll comment to perhaps clarify how they may be used.

Complementary Focuses

The first two recommended instruments differ more in focus and presentation than in content, though they will also complement each other in content.  The basic foundational document is the Worldview Investigation Summary, compiled from several current ethnographic sources. Some variations of this will be found in circulation.  

Worldview Investigation Outline
This may also be called a Worldview Summary Document.  This document will elicit and summarize the broad and deep worldview of any people group.  Discoveries in the process of finding out the answers to these, from whatever sources, will clarify broader ethnic groups or smaller sub-groups.  Thus this is a discovery document.

This means that this document will be

(1) An ongoing growing reference, as new questions arise and new discoveries are made.  It should be dynamic, a living document, growing as experience and awareness of the people grows.  A team will ideally continue to develop this document, getting more specific and detailed information as available or necessary.

(2) A basic resource for strategy, the primary reference point for the identity of a people or ethnic cluster, and source of perspectives for worldview, that is beliefs, lifestyles, communication formats, etc.  A team would draw strategy insights from it as the Master Strategy Plan is updated each year.

People Profile Template
The profile format provided is that used by the Summer Institute of Linguistics, world authority on language research and analysis.  The version of this we provide has guiding questions which help specify information in each category.  This format should be helpful to untrained persons who either know the information from experience with the people, or can investigate directly or summarize information from the Worldview Summary document.

In principle, the People Profile is a formulation of primary summary categories from the Worldview document.  This summary describes the people in accurate but popular language. The People Profile form provides a summary that reflects the findings in the Worldview Summary, but not necessarily in the same ethnographic terms or categories.

This document can serve as a basic orientation to new team members, advocacy partners, etc. Variations of this information can serve for various constituencies for various purposes.  The most common variant will be for prayer advocacy, which might not include all the information or categories in the Narrative Summary (first section).  The popular Prayer Profile format used by Bethany/AD 2000 is the most common example of this.

Shorter focused versions of this could be email advocacy pieces, sent to new people who join your network, or in short periodic focuses on a prayer note you send out to your advocacy partners.

Some have observed that there is some overlap between the Worldview Investigation Summary outline and the People Profile guide.  This may be most noted in the final section of the Profile, the Background Questionnaire.  This may specify more demographic information, such as details of population, weather and terrain, livelihood, country information, statistics on education or gender, etc.  This might even be in more detail than would be included in the Worldview document.

This would more extend, rather than overlap with, the focus and content of the Worldview Summary.  Some aspects of the Profile Questionnaire section of the Profile will cover the same content as the Worldview Summary.  This should be considered different in focus, not content.  See the two as a paired set of instruments.

Questionnaire for Worldview Analysis
This instrument covers the same areas and asks similar questions as the Worldview Investigation Outline.  It is, however, a simpler document, with a simple sequence of 80 questions.  This instrument was originally designed to assist cross-cultural workers or students to:

(1) Discover aspects of their own cultural and personal worldview, seriously processing the attitudes, beliefs and practices queried in the Questionnaire.  The purpose is to reflect on the reasons for and sources of those attitudes and beliefs, in order to better understand the cultural processes and sources.  

These insights contribute to an objective awareness of an individual's personal worldview, beliefs, assumptions and prejudices.  This awareness will help clarify of the dynamics affecting relationships with members of another culture.

(2) Proceed with a similar procedure looking at the host culture, using either formal or informal resources.  As with any cultural study, resources might include popular or academic writings, current publications such as newspapers or magazines or personal interviews, whether formal or informal.  

As the worldview of the culture in focus is discovered, comparisons can be made with the investigator's own worldview previously probed in stage one.  These two perspectives continue to be in dialogue during the ongoing learning, building of relationships and engagement in work activities in the host culture.  

The objectification of both the individual's worldview and the host culture's worldview provides a basis for contrast, to perceive characteristics of the worldview and culture being investigated.

The first stage of this process is very helpful as part of an initial cultural orientation, preparation for some overseas experience, or for team training or update.  It can be handled as a formal academic procedure, or as a personal or spiritual growth process, guided by mentor or as a team process.

Worldview Survey (Word Format)
This is a field instrument in the for of a Word document that provides structure and guidance in the actual interview process.   It is compatible with, and may serve as an alternative to, the Worldview Investigation Outline, for gathering and organizing the worldview information.  Its place in the scheme, however, is to serve as a procedural guide for obtaining the information covered in the questions in the Worldview Investigation Outline.

This Survey instrument is particularly suited to volunteer teams or less experienced investigators beginning a probe into the worldview of a people.  Its form enhances ease of gathering the information and evaluating what has been obtained.  Its format is also helpful in comparing and compiling insights gathered by different investigators.  This document is also a discovery document but will aid those who need more structure.

Country Profile Template (Word Format)
This instrument in Word document format guides in the development of a country profile.  A simple form of this is included in the Profile Template.  This guide structures the discovery and formatting of information normally included in a general profile of a country.  A country profile may have value on its own, or supplement an ethnic profile of one or more people groups in that country.

Material from either the Profile or the Worldview Summary may be used in whatever format suits the need.  If you need to develop a promotional brochure for your people, the audience and what you need them to know determine what form and format it will take.

It might be useful to have a tri-fold brochure, for instance, that follows closely the Profile Narrative Summary, and has a page or box of statistics from the Country Data and Questionnaire sections, but includes pictures of the people and country or cultural icons.

In other cases, you might want to just have a short summary section describing the people's location and general lifestyle, and focus on their cultural, social or religious state and prayer needs coming out of those.

Your team's definitive source for this would be the two worldview summary and people profile you have developed.  But how you use the content you have gathered for the two documents may be quite varied, according to audience and purpose.

In practice you will learn aspects of various questions at different times.  The forms allow dynamic use, entering any pertinent information or observations, strategy insights or suggestions at any time in any section.

Thus both these instruments are dynamic in form, and do not have to be filled in in linear fashion, from number 1 to the end.  Use these questions in the Worldview Summary as category guides by which to organize your observations, readings, insights from language learning or other cultural learning.

At any time, the information accumulated up to that point can be summarized for immediate use, while observation and learning always continues, and the documents continue to grow.  You may find you want to add other questions or categories, or expand one subsection to much more detail, according to your discoveries about cultural aspects of the people you are studying and communicating with.


10 July 2001
Last Edited 29 November 2007

Worldview Investigation Outline
People Profile
Questionnaire for Worldview Analysis
Worldview Survey (Word Format)
Country Profile Template (Word Format)

What is Worldview?

Additional resources are available on Orville Jenkins Thoughts and Resources

Copyright © Orville Boyd Jenkins 2002, 2004
Permission given for free download and use for personal and educational purposes.  All other rights reserved.
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