Understanding the Mindset of People in the Developing World 

Many Westerner speakers enter the Developing World unaware of the world view and perspectives of the people who live there. It never occurs to them that the people in their audience might not understand the things they are saying. Even when we meet people who appear to have a reasonable grasp of English, our meaning of the words we use and their understanding of those same words frequently differ greatly. Recognizing these differences is not a matter of education verses lack of education. Rather it is a matter of a different world view.

The comparative table below is intended to highlight the differences between the Western World View and the Developing World's world View. This comparison is must not be seen as a value judgment. It is most certainly not saying that one is better than the other. Rather, the purpose of this comparison is to highlight the 'differences' between the Western view of the world and that of many in the Developing World. All cultures have their intrinsic value. One is not better than another. They are simply different. Effective communication means that we must recognize those differences.

Western Perspective: Developing World Perspective

World View

  • Global and Universal
  • Constantly expanding due to the input of education, media and internet
  • We travel a great deal.

World View

  • Local and National
  • Largely static. Little outside resource
  • Most travel little further than their home town or national capital


  • Focus on the individual
  • We live in abundance
  • We value accumulation
  • We save for the future.


  • Focus on Community
  • They live in subsistence/ survival
  • Use what you have
  • Little future planning. Survive today


  • Well documented - Written
  • Widely understood
  • Extensive in nature (most have a concept of ancient history)
  • Taught from infancy
  • Linear in understanding


  • Oral base history. The story
  • Power of the Legend
  • Living memory is key
  • Time frame is not important
  • Little knowledge of historical flow
  • History by event / point


  • Time is important and valuable
  • ‘Time is money’
  • Time management is valued
  • Punctuality is prized and required


  • Time is largely irrelevant
  • “I have little control of time …”
  • Relationships are important
  • Lateness is anticipated.


  • Knowledge is important
  • We learn for learning sake
  • We learn in a linear fashion

o          Say it once and move on

o          Don’t repeat yourself

  • We learn by research and discovery


  • Learn what is needed to survive
  • Retain what I can use
  • Learning is cyclic

o        Repetition emphasizes

o        Repetition is important

  • Learning is largely by ‘rote’.


  • We process theories and principles
  • We understand the unseen world.

o        Microbiology, germs etc

o        Vitamins & Minerals


  • What use is this to me?
  • The visible is important.

o        Can I eat it?

o        Can I use it?

o        Is it of practical benefit?


  • The reality of the spiritual is questioned by many
  • People think they can do without a spiritual reality in their lives.


  • The spiritual is all around all the time
  • The spiritual is essential to life and inescapable.

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LttN Ministries Inc.