A Developmental Model
of Intercultural Sensitivity

Milton J. Bennett, Ph.D.
Intercultural Development Research Institute

I. Denial Of Difference

People with this predominant experience are “in denial” about cultural difference – they are unable to experience differences in other than extremely simple ways. They may be perplexed when asked about their own culture, because they have not considered how culture impacts their own or others’ lives. They might ask well-meant but naive questions about other cultures (“do they have television in Japan?”) and make superficial statements of tolerance (“live and let live”). In some cases, people with this orientation may dehumanize others, assuming that different behavior is a deficiency in intelligence or personality.

Denial/Disinterest: Isolation in homogeneous groups fails to generate either the opportunity or the motivation to construct relevant categories for noticing and interpreting cultural difference.

Denial/Avoidance: Intentional separation from cultural difference protects worldview from change by creating the conditions of isolation. Some awareness of cultural difference may yield undifferentiated broad categories, such as ”foreigner” or “Asian” or “people of color.

A Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity

Milton J. Bennett, Ph.D.