Guilt-innocence cultures are typically found in Western cultures where laws play a significant role in the culture. The Judeo-Christian background of the U.S. would feed this. People who break laws are guilty and should face justice for their wrong acts (unless they are forgiven by those offended). The societies are often more individualistic, so just an individual is guilty.
Honor-shame cultures are typically found in the East (although social media has introduced more of this thinking into the U.S. culture). The societies are more collectivist, so people are shamed for not fulfilling the expectations of the culture. Honor is restored by removing the offending person from the family, city, or community.
Fear-power cultures are typically found in tribal contexts (e.g., in Africa or the Amazon). People are afraid of the power of the shamans (witch doctors) and seek to have power over unseen spirits for protection and to get what they need. Rituals and ceremonies are ways to placate the spirit powers and evoke magical things to happen.
All of these are ways to control and motivate the people the cultures impact—especially children. They are learned from childhood and used to explain things in life which are difficult to understand and relate to observed (but possibly not understood) power.
Principles cited in this blog: Though simplistic, understanding some basics of ways to differentiate cultures can help us better relate to and get along with others who are so different from ourselves.
Application for ISI ministry: Insight into an international student’s cultural background can help us understand why they do what they do and how they relate to failure. Because each person is unique, it is good to dialogue about these issues with students you know.
Next blog topic: Understanding honor-shame based cultures specifically
Doug Shaw with Derrah Jackson