Cultural Fatigue Insights
“Cultural Fatigue is the physical and emotional exhaustion that
almost invariably results from the infinite series of minute adjustments
required for long-term survival in an alien culture. Living and working
overseas generally requires that one must suspend his automatic
evaluations and judgments, that he must supply new interpretations to
seemingly familiar behavior and that he must demand of himself constant
alterations in the style and content of his activity. Whether this
process is conscious or unconscious, successful, or unsuccessful, it
consumes and enormous amount of energy leaving the individual decidedly
- Cultural Confrontation in the Philippines
From a Chapter in
the Book Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps.
Maybe this a helpful reference:
“Cultural Confrontation in the Philippines. In Textor ed,
Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps. MIT Press, 1965.“
1. Cultural Fatigue "It ain't right."
Living in a room, the faucets are not marked, there is cultural
fatigue created when a person has to learn the new systems or lack
2. Cultural Fatigue Cognitive Dissonance
Cultural Fatigue is created by asking oneself why? A foreigner in
a culture can ask simple questions, for example directions. The
person give direction however they are not correct, the search for
understanding of why this occurs causes cultural fatigue.
3. Cultural Fatigue "TMI - Too much information."
Here are some proposed ideas, please do not become rigid or
frozen in your views, there is no one answer to cultural fatigue.
Cause of Cultural Fatigue
When you leave one specific area of a planet and move to another,
there is a time period in which the person must adjust, adapt and
learn to manage this real problem.
Type of Travelers or Tourist
1. Travel alone in areas with other foreigners
2. Travel alone in areas with no other foreigners
3. Travel as couple in areas with no other foreigners
4. Travel as couples in areas with no other foreigners
5. Travel alone and have a based social groups such as job,
organization or groups.
- i.e. Peace Corps having central office.
6. Travel as couple and have a based social groups such as job,
organization or groups.
- i.e. Missionaries who have a church that is affiliated
Action-based coping involves actually dealing with a problem
that is causing stress. Examples can include getting a second job in
the face of financial difficulties, or studying to prepare for
exams. Examples of action-based coping include planning, suppression
of competing activities, confrontation, self-control, and restraint.
- Going Home
- Retreat into social groups
- Travelers Nest
- Searching for social groups that emulate your own culture.
- Visiting same restaurant, club, etc daily or regularly.
Emotion-based coping skills reduce the symptoms of stress
without addressing the source of the stress. sleeping or discussing
the stress with a friend are all emotion-based coping strategies.
Other examples include denial, repression, wishful thinking,
distraction, relaxation, reappraisal, and humor. There are both
positive and negative coping strategies that can be defined as
emotion-based. Emotion-based coping can be useful to reduce stress
to a manageable level, enabling action-based coping, or when the
source of stress can not be addressed directly.
- Keeping busy
- Mating or finding a person of opposite sex to share intimate
- Go Native
Harmful coping methods
Some coping methods are more like habits than skills, and can be
harmful. Overused, they may actually worsen one's condition.
Alcohol, cocaine and other drugs may provide temporary escape from
one's problems, but, with excess use, ultimately result in greater
- Alcohol or drugs
Conflict Resolution in Animals
- Note, I am including this because when communication breaks
down, we regress
Conflict resolution has also been studied in
non-humans, like dogs, cats, monkeys, elephants, and
primates (see Frans de Waal, 2000). Aggression is
more common among relatives and within a group, than
between groups. Instead of creating a distance
between the individuals, however, the primates were
more intimate in the period after the aggressive
incident. These intimacies consisted of grooming and
various forms of body contact. Stress responses,
like an increased heart rate, usually decrease after
these reconciliatory signals. Different types of
primates, as well as many other species who are
living in groups, show different types of
conciliatory behaviour. Resolving conflicts that
threaten the interaction between individuals in a
group is necessary for survival, hence has a strong
evolutionary value. These findings contradicted
previous existing theories about the general
function of aggression, i.e. creating space between
individuals (first proposed by Konrad Lorenz), which
seems to be more the case in conflicts between
groups than it is within groups.
In addition to research in primates, biologists are
beginning to explore reconciliation in other
animals. Up until recently, the literature dealing
with reconciliation in non-primates have consisted
of anecdotal observations and very little
quantitative data. Although peaceful post-conflict
behavior had been documented going back to the
1960s, it wasn’t until 1993 that Rowell made the
first explicit mention of reconciliation in feral
sheep. Reconciliation has since been documented in
spotted hyenas, lions, dolphins, dwarf
mongooses, domestic goats, and domestic dogs.