A DEVELOPMENTAL MODEL * OF INTERCULTURAL SENSITIVITY Milton J. Bennett, M.D.
I. DENIAL OF DIFFERENCE
The inability to construe cultural difference. Indicated by benign stereotyping (wellmeant but ignorant or naive observations) and superficial statements of tolerance. May sometimes be accompanied by attribution of deficiency in intelligence or personality to culturally deviant behavior. Tendency to dehumanize outsiders. 1. Denial/Isolation: Isolation in homogeneous groups fails to generate either the opportunity or the motivation to construct relevant categories for noticing and interpreting cultural difference. 2. Denial/Separation: Intentional separation from cultural difference protects world view from change by creating the conditions of isolation. Some awareness of cultural difference may yield undifferentiated broad categories, such as "foreigner" or "Asian" or "Black." Cognitive Structure: • No categories ("what difference?") or only broad categories for different cultures. Affective Quality: • Benign on the surface ("live and let live"), but potentially genocidal when pressed into cross-cultural contact. Behavioral Emphasis: • Aggressive ignorance ("I don't need to know"), stress on the familiar. Exercise of Power: • Possibility of exploitation. At this stage, learners say: • "Live and let live, that's what I say." • "All big cities are the same-lots of buildings, too many cars, McDonalds." • "What I really need to know about is art and music." • "As long as we all speak the same language, there's no problem." • "The main concerns I have involve knowing how to get around and ordering in restaurants." • "With my experience, I can be successful in any culture without any special effort." • "I never experience culture shock." • "All I need to know about is politics and history-I can figure out the rest of it as I go along."
DEVELOPING COMPETENCE: DENIAL
DEVELOPMENTAL TASK: To recognize the existence of cultural differences CHALLENGE AND SUPPORT: Learners experience of difference: High Challenge Educators should emphasize: High Support TO SUPPORT THE LEARNERS: Content: • Objective culture: Art, music, literature, theatre, dance • Heroes and holidays • Culture specific social science: Politics, history, economics, sociology • Travel tips: "Do's and taboos" • Use symbols, not target cultures Process: • Illustrate ideas with user-friendly activities • Embed differences in non-threatening contexts • Promote an inclusive, non-blaming climate • Address learner anxieties in existing categories, but limit time • Build on what they already know
TO CHALLENGE THE LEARNERS: Content: • Subjective culture: Selected values, beliefs, and behaviors • A constructive vision of intercultural interaction Process: • Arouse curiosity • Facilitate structured contact with other cultures through films, slides, panel presentations, etc. STAGE-APPROPRIATE INTERCULTURAL SKILLS: • • • • The ability to gather appropriate information about culture The initiative to explore aspects of subjective culture Trust, friendliness, cooperation The ability to recognize difference
II. DEFENSE AGAINST DIFFERENCE
Recognition of cultural difference coupled with negative evaluation of most variations from native culture-the greater the difference, the more negative the evaluation. Characterized by dualistic us/them thinking and frequently accompanied by overt negative stereotyping. Evolutionary view of cultural development with native culture at the acme. A tendency towards social/cultural proselytizing of "underdeveloped" cultures. 3. Defense/Denigration: Cognitive categories for construing cultural difference are isolated by evaluating them negatively, thus protecting world view from change. ("I know Americans have a different culture, but everything about it proves what barbarians they are.") 4. Defense/Superiority: Existing cultural world view is protected by exaggerating its positive aspects compared to all other cultures. Any neutral or...
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