Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS), Milton Bennett (1986)

The Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS) is a framework developed by Milton Bennett in 1986 to describe the stages individuals go through as they develop intercultural competence and sensitivity. The model provides insights into how individuals perceive and respond to cultural differences and offers a roadmap for developing effective intercultural communication and understanding.

Milton Bennett proposed six stages of intercultural sensitivity within the DMIS:

  • Denial: At this stage, individuals are unaware or deny the existence of cultural differences. They perceive their own culture as the only valid and normal perspective and may exhibit ethnocentric tendencies.
  • Defense: In the defense stage, individuals recognize cultural differences but view them as threats or challenges. They may react defensively or assert their own cultural superiority to protect their own beliefs and values.
  • Minimization: At the minimization stage, individuals start to recognize similarities among cultures and downplay differences. They emphasize universal human experiences and try to find common ground while minimizing the significance of cultural variations.
  • Acceptance: In the acceptance stage, individuals actively seek to understand and appreciate cultural differences. They recognize the value of diverse perspectives and engage in respectful and open-minded intercultural interactions.
  • Adaptation: Individuals in the adaptation stage are capable of shifting perspectives and adapting their behavior to accommodate cultural differences. They demonstrate cultural flexibility and adjust their communication styles and practices to effectively interact with people from different cultures.
  • Integration: The integration stage represents the highest level of intercultural sensitivity. Individuals in this stage not only appreciate and adapt to cultural differences but also actively seek to integrate multiple cultural perspectives. They possess a deep understanding of cultural complexities and can navigate complex intercultural situations with ease.

The DMIS highlights that individuals may progress through these stages at different rates and may revert to earlier stages in certain situations. It also recognizes that intercultural sensitivity is a lifelong learning process that can be further developed through education, experiences, and exposure to diverse cultures.

The model has been widely used in intercultural training, education, and research to help individuals and organizations navigate cultural diversity and enhance intercultural competence. By understanding the stages of intercultural sensitivity, individuals can increase their cultural awareness, empathy, and effectiveness in intercultural interactions.