Intercultural Development Inventory

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The Intercultural Development Inventory

The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) was formulated by Dr. Mitchell Hammer (1998) in cooperation with Dr. Milton Bennett. The IDI is a 60-item, theory-based paper and pencil instrument which measures five of the six major stages of the DMIS (more info below). The instrument is easy to complete and can generate a graphic profile of an individual's or group's predominant stage of development and a textual interpretation of that stage and associated transition issues. Knowledge of an individual's or group's predominant orientation toward cultural difference is extremely valuable for personal or organizational needs assessment, for education and training design, and for the evaluation of program effectiveness.

Most other tests of "intercultural competence" are criterion-referenced, in that they measure how close the respondent matches a set of characteristics or behaviors thought to be associated with intercultural competence. It is difficult to establish reliability and validity for such tests. As a theory-based test, the IDI can meet the standard scientific criteria for a valid psychometric instrument. Further, the IDI measures cognitive structure rather than attitudes. Thus, the instrument is less susceptible to situational factors, it is more stable, and it is more generalizable than other tests commonly in use.

Reliability of the IDI is extremely high. Items on the IDI are actual statements selected from interviews of a directed sample of 40 subjects representing cross-cultural and situational diversity (i.e., not limited to university students). All statements about cultural difference from the initial interviews were categorized by four raters with an inter-rater reliability of .85-.95 (Spearman's rho). Experts then reviewed the item pool and items were deleted which were not similarly categorized by 5 of the 7 experts. The resulting 145-item inventory was then administered to 226 respondents from diverse backgrounds. Factor analysis established that the items constituted six discrete dimensions that corresponded to five of the six DMIS stages (Denial, Defense, Minimization, Acceptance, and two forms of Adaptation; the last stage, Integration, was not measured). Items constituting the six unidimensional scales of the final IDI obtained coefficient Alpha levels of .80 or better, meeting or exceeding the standard reliability criterion for individual and group psychometric diagnosis (Nunnally, 1978; DeVellis, 1991).

Validity of the IDI has been established in several ways. Content validity was established by using actual statements drawn from interviews, along with the reliable categorization of these statements by both raters and experts. Construct validity was established by correlating the IDI with the Worldmindedness Scale (Sampson and Smith, 1957; Wiseman, Hammer, and Nishida, 1989) and with the Intercultural Anxiety Scale, a modified version of the Social Anxiety Scale (Gao and Gudykunst, 1990). As expected, the IDI Ethnocentric Scales (Denial, Defense, and Minimization) correlate negatively with Worldmindedness and positively with Intercultural Anxiety, and conversely, the IDI Ethnorelative scales (Acceptance, Cognitive Adaptation, and Behavioral Adaptation) correlate positively with Worldmindedness and negatively with Intercultural Anxiety. Finally, the assumption that DMIS stages are sequential is supported in both the construct validity tests and by examining the internal correlation of the IDI scales.

Based on the exhaustive development and testing of the IDI for reliability and validity, it is fair to conclude that the instrument is measuring the cognitive states described by the DMIS, that those cognitive states are indeed associated with certain stable orientations toward cultural difference, and that development of intercultural sensitivity and competence actually occurs in the sequence suggested by the model.

For more about the IDI, visit or call the Intercultural Communication Institute at 503-297-4622 (Portland, Oregon, USA)


The Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS)

The Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS) was created by Dr. Milton Bennett (1986, 1993) as a framework to explain the reactions of people to cultural difference. In both academic and corporate settings, he observed that individuals confronted cultural difference in some predictable ways as they learned to became more competent intercultural communicators. Using concepts from cognitive psychology and constructivism, he organized these observations into six stages of increasing sensitivity to cultural difference.

The underlying assumption of the model is that as one's experience of cultural difference becomes more complex and sophisticated, one's competence in intercultural relations increases. Each stage indicates a particular cognitive structure that is expressed in certain kinds of attitudes and behavior related to cultural difference. By recognizing the underlying cognitive orientation toward cultural difference, predictions about behavior and attitudes can be made and education can be tailored to facilitate development into the next stage.

The first three DMIS stages are ethnocentric, meaning that one's own culture is experienced as central to reality in some way:

Denial of cultural difference is the state in which one's own culture is experienced as the only real one. Other cultures is avoided by maintaining psychological and/or physical isolation from differences. People at Denial generally are disinterested in cultural difference, although they may act aggressively to eliminate a difference if it impinges on them.

Defense against cultural difference is the state in which one's own culture (or an adopted culture) is experienced as the only good one. The world is organized into "us and them," where "we" are superior and "they" are inferior. People at Defense are threatened by cultural difference, so they tend to be highly critical of other cultures, regardless of whether the others are their hosts, their guests, or cultural newcomers to their society.

Minimization of cultural difference is the state in which elements of one's own cultural world view are experienced as universal. Because these absolutes obscure deep cultural differences, other cultures may be trivialized or romanticized. People at Minimization expect similarities, and they may become insistent about correcting others' behavior to match their expectations.

The second three DMIS stages are ethnorelative, meaning that one's own culture is experienced in
the context of other cultures.

Acceptance of cultural difference is the state in one's own culture is experienced as just one of a number of equally complex worldviews. Acceptance does not mean agreement - cultural difference may be judged negatively - but the judgment is not ethnocentric. People at Acceptance are curious about and respectful toward cultural difference.

Adaptation to cultural difference is the state in which the experience of another culture yields perception and behavior appropriate to that culture. One's repertoire of culture behavior is expanded to include People at Adaptation are able to look at the world "through different eyes" and may intentionally change their behavior to communicate more effectively in another culture.

Integration of cultural difference is the state in which one's experience of self is expanded to include the movement in and out of different cultural worldviews. People at Integration often are dealing with issues related to their own "cultural marginality." This stage is not necessarily better than Adaptation in most situations demanding intercultural competence, but it is common among non-dominant minority groups, long-term expatriates, and "global nomads."

The DMIS has been used with great success for the last fifteen years to develop curriculum for intercultural education and training programs. Content analysis research has supported the relevance of the stage descriptions and has suggested that a more rigorous measurement of the underlying cognitive states could yield a powerful tool for personal and group assessment.


Bennett, M.J. (1986). A developmental approach to training for intercultural sensitivity. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 10, no.2: 179-95.

Bennett, M.J. (1993). Towards ethnorelativism: A developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. In M. Paige (Ed.), Education for the intercultural experience. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

DeVellis, R.F. (1991). Scale development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Gao, G., & Gudykunst, W.B. (1990). Uncertainty, anxiety and adaptation. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 5, 301-317.

Hammer, M.R. (1998, in press). A measure of intercultural sensitivity: The Intercultural Development Inventory. In S. Fowler & M. Fowler (Eds.), The intercultural sourcebook: Volume 2. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

Nunnally, J.C. (1978). Psychometric theory (2nd edition). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Sampson, D.L., & Smith, H.P. (1957). A scale to measure world-minded attitudes. Journal of Social Psychology, 45, 99-106.

Wiseman, R.L., Hammer, M.R., & Nishida, H. (1989). Predictors of intercultural communication competence. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 13, 349-370.

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