IDC and IDI - Napa Valley College

Intercultural Communication
Ann Gross
Grounded theory (evidence based), used to
explain predictable stages people go through,
based on their intercultural experiences
Based on The Developmental Model of
Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS), created by Dr.
Milton Bennett, Co-Director of the
Intercultural Communication Institute,
Portland Oregon
Predicts intercultural communication
competence – ability to communicate
effectively and appropriately in a variety of
Requires culturally sensitive knowledge, a
motivated mindset and skill set
Person focuses appropriately on cultural
commonalities and cultural differences
Development follows predictable stages
◦ Cultural Generalization
– statement of
probability based on systematically collected
data; tendency of a majority of cultural group
◦ Stereotype – application of a cultural
generalization to every member in a cultural
group, or generalizing from only a few group
In intercultural interactions, need to find
some balance between the two
At different stages on IDC, person tends to
focus more on one or the other
Attitudes toward cultural differences also
change through the stages
 Monocultural
Mindset –
◦ Use own cultural values and practices to make
sense of other culture’s differences and
◦ Rely on broad stereotypes
◦ Less complex understanding of other cultures
 Intercultural/Global
Mindset –
◦ Make sense of differences and similarities
using one’s own and other cultures’ values
and practices.
◦ Use cultural generalizations to help
understand complex differences and
Other cultures viewed through lens of one’s
own culture
When people have not interacted in depth
with other cultures; may avoid interaction
Overly simple views of other cultures;
Seem accepting, but have a tendency to
dehumanize outsiders
Focused on cultural differences, which are
seen as negative or threatening
Dualistic thinking (good/bad; us vs. them)
Two Forms:
◦ Defense – Uncritical of own culture, more critical of
other; exclusion of others; backlash actions
◦ Reversal – Overly critical of own culture, uncritical of
other cultures
Highlight cultural commonalities and universal
values and principles, but may overlook cultural
Accept superficial cultural differences, but think
all humans are basically the same (“Like me”)
Tendency to define commonality in ethnocentric
terms (own culture seen as everyone’s reality)
Can lead to acceptance of institutionalized
Able to view interactions from multiple
cultural perspectives
Recognize that all cultures are equally
complex and valid
Beginning of ability to interpret behavior,
values, perceptions etc. within a cultural
Acceptance does not mean that one likes or
approves of all aspects of each culture
Can lead to “liberal paralysis” – fear of being
judgmental or taking action
Able to “Talk the talk,” but not yet
“Walk the walk”
Development of a flexible mindset and
skillset needed for intercultural
communication competence
Ability to see things from others’ points of
view (empathy), and
Ability to adapt behaviors to act in culturally
appropriate ways
Development Inventory
Reliable and valid cross-cultural self-assessment
instrument for individual feedback related to the
Intercultural Development Continuum
Used as a tool to target most appropriate
intercultural communication training for person
Developed and validated by Dr. Milton Bennett
and Dr. Mitchell Hammer (Professor of
Intercultural Communication, The American
University, Washington, DC)
Polarization (Defense/Reversal)
Cultural Disengagement (sense of not
belonging to a culture)

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