Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity

DMIS is the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity, introduced by Milton Bennett in 1986 and later revised in 1993. It describes six stages of cross-cultural experience, especially the management of differences across culture.

In the outline that follows, there are stages of “ethnocentrism” where an individual may be focused more on himself. Following are stages of “ethnorelativism” where an individual may now be more aware of others.


1. Denial                                                                                     

My cultural experience may be the only one I know. This could be factual by no fault of my own. I almost always think my experience is real and valid. There is little-to-no thought of “other”.

2. Defense

“We” are superior, and “they” are inferior. One may feel threatened and is highly critical of others. What appears strange may be labeled as stupid.

3. Minimization

Other cultures are trivialized or romanticized. One tends to deny differences and seek only similarities. Some claim to be “color blind”. [Being “color blind” is not an intercultural skill. It is better to see, comprehend, and appreciate differences. The term respectliterally means “to look again”.]


4. Acceptance

I accept but may not agree with other cultures. Generally, I am curious and respectful. It is OK that someone else is different.

5. Adaptation

I “see” the world through fresh eyes and may even make intentional changes in my own values and behavior.

6. Integration

I easily move in and out of different cultural worldviews. [There are many people who are bi-lingual and therefore bi-cultural. This is not the same as cultural appropriation.]

Where do you see yourself? Depending on your CQ Drive, it may be quite easy to develop increased competency across cultures. Global Perspectives Consulting is certified in Cultural Intelligence (CQ). We are able to help you assess.