The Story Behind ‘The Culture Test’

What is the providence of The Culture Test? People have asked this question, as it impacts the validity and authority of the results. The short is: Jayson Georges developed The Culture Test as a ministry training tool. If you want a longer answer, read below.

Like most good ideas these days, The Culture Test started with Facebook! One evening while relaxing on the couch, my wife did a short Facebook quiz titled, “What Country is Your Personality?” She answered the 7 basic questions, then gleefully announced, “I’d be France!” This event introduced me to the entire cottage industry of silly personality quizzes available on social media: “What Scooby-Doo Character Are You?”, “What Flavor of Hot Sauce Are You?”, “Are You Beavis or Butt-head?” I knew for sure there had to be a more helpful way to categorize the world. So I decided to develop a test that helped people discern their “cultural orientation.”

Personality tests are a huge cottage industry. These tests like Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument help people understand their individual characteristics, but they do not identity the group dynamics that shape our worldview. People know their personality type, but not their groupality type. Psychology tests help people to “Know Thyself,” but we must also “Know Thy Culture.” This was my motivation.

Developing the Questions

I had never developed a social survey, so developing a practical test with reliable and accurate results was a learning process. The first step involved writing basic questions about everyday situations with three possible answers. The most difficult part was formulating questions with three simple answers that are applicable to all cultures, from Argentina to Turkey to Taiwan, and everything in between.

To acquire outside input, I developed an online survey that asked people around the world to complete a series of open-ended sentences. For example:

  • Sick people are treated by _________.
  • Something is true because _________.
  • A wedding starts when _________.

Their diverse answers provided the raw data needed to write globally-valid and concise options for each question.

The primary purpose of The Culture Test was training for cross-cultural ministry. The tool equips mission practitioners to discern their default cultural values, so could anticipate cultural collisions before they happened. With that purpose in mind, the format of The Culture Test was designed to be engaging and accessible for a generation accustomed to Facebook quizzes.

In addition to being practical, I wanted the test to have legitimate results. I asked four professors—Dr. Robert Brenneman, Dr. Judith Lingenfelter, Dr. Mark Baker, and Dr. Jackson Wu—for feedback. They each offered invaluable insights for improving the reliability and accuracy.

The questions were refined and the test was ready to launch. With the help of a programmer friend, we developed the online platform for administering the test. Since the launch in 2014, over 29,000 people have taken The Culture Test.

Read more posts in this series “Guilt-Shame-Fear: Revisited“.

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