The Intercultural Development Inventory

A cross-cultural assessment of intercultural competence

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What is the IDI®?

The IDI is a cross-cultural assessment of intercultural competence. This is a cross-culturally valid, reliable and generalizable measure of intercultural competence that can be applied for individual as well as group use. The IDI has been successfully applied in corporations, educational and government institutions, and numerous not-for-profit organizations.

Why use the IDI?

The IDI has been widely applied in three core areas: (1) for individual feedback and development of intercultural competence, 
(2) for group/team feedback and training development of intercultural competence, and (3) for baseline assessments and organizational development.

Special features of the IDI:

  • It’s based on sound theoretical construct.
  • It provides in depth information through customized individual IDI profile reports and group profile reports.
  • Action areas are identified through a customized Individual Development Plan (IDP) and IDI Guided Development®.
  • It applies across a wide range of cultures including national, ethnic, gender and other diverse categories.
  • It has been psychometrically tested and found to possess strong validity and reliability across diverse cultural groups.
  • It is customized for educational and organizational use.
  • It is available in 17 languages: Arabic, Bahasa Indonesian, Chinese, Czech, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, and Turkish. Each language version of the IDI has been rigorously “back translated,” ensuring both linguistic and conceptual equivalence in the meaning of each item.

Building intercultural competence is a developmental process

The IDI has been successfully applied in corporations, educational and government institutions, and numerous not-for-profit organizations.

A group of friends at a coffee shop
Competency requires increasing knowledge of your own cultural attitudes and of those of the people around you,

The IDI instrument:

The IDI assesses intercultural competence through a 50-item questionnaire, available online and in a paper-and-pencil format that can be completed in 15–20 minutes. It also includes contexting questions that allow respondents to describe their intercultural experiences in terms of (a) their cross-cultural goals, (b) the challenges that they face navigating cultural differences, (c) critical (intercultural) incidents that they face when they encounter cultural differences, and (d) the ways they navigate those cultural differences. After individuals complete the IDI, each person’s responses to the 50 items are analyzed and reports prepared that include the person’s written responses to the contexting questions.

The theoretical basis of IDI:

It is based on the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS) theory developed by Dr. Milton Bennett. The IDI is adapted from the DMIS and provides a measurement along Dr. Mitchell Hammer’s Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC). The IDC describes a set of orientations toward cultural difference and commonality that are spread over a continuum from the more monocultural mindsets to the intercultural or global mindsets.

Building intercultural competence is a developmental process. Competency requires increasing knowledge of your own cultural attitudes, of those of the people around you, and management of emotions when faced with cultural difference in order to effectively and appropriately bridge those differences. The diagram provides a brief summary of the 5 mindsets that register on the IDI:

  • DENIAL: little recognition of deeper cultural differences but that likely recognizes more observable ones such as food.
  • POLARIZATION: a judgmental orientation that views the difference in terms of “us vs. them.” It can show up as Defense in which the person is uncritical towards one’s own cultural practices but is overly critical towards others’ cultural practices, or it can show up as Reversal in which the person is overly critical towards one’s own cultural practices, and an uncritical view toward other cultural values and practices.
  • MINIMIZATION: highlights cultural commonality that can mask deeper recognition and appreciation of cultural differences.
  • ACCEPTANCE: recognition and appreciation of patterns of cultural difference and commonality in one’s own and other cultures.
  • ADAPTATION: the capability to shift cultural perspective and change behavior in culturally appropriate and authentic ways.
  • CULTURAL DISENGAGEMENT is another measure that can appear on the IDI that is separate from the above-mentioned mindsets. It refers to a sense of disconnection or detachment a person may feel from their own cultural group indicating a possible lack of involvement with your primary cultural community.

Intercultural Development Inventory® 

The Intercultural Development Inventory®, IDI® and IDI Guided Development® are registered trademarks of IDI LLC in the United States and other countries. Intercultural Understanding has obtained a license to use the IDI® from IDI, LLC. For the IDI official website please visit

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