So, What’s an IDI?

So, What’s an IDI?


As already mentioned, in one semester, AUCP students make leaps and bounds towards French language fluency…

But wait! Specialists in intercultural communication like Edward T. Hall insist that words count for only 10% of communication. The other 90% is made up of a multitude of messages — most of which we are not even aware of. Intercultural competence is all about bringing that 90% into awareness and learning to feel what words or behavior are appropriate in a given context. To evaluate students’ development of intercultural competence over the course of a semester or a year, the AUCP uses contracted independent testing. Enter the IDI – the Intercultural Development Inventory. AUCP students take this exam at the beginning and end of each semester.

Created in 1998 by Mitchell Hammer and Milton Bennett, Ph.D.s, the IDI is widely regarded as the most valid and reliable assessment tool for measuring intercultural competence. To date it has served as the research tool for close to 70 doctoral dissertations. Its scale is currently broken down into five stages of developmental evolution, from an ethnocentric to an ethnorelative world view, labeled Denial, Defense, Polarization, Acceptance and Adaptation.

How does the IDI measure intercultural competence?

The IDI measures an individual’s or group’s fundamental worldview orientation to cultural difference. Simply put, the IDI measures one’s increasing capacity to discern and to manage cultural difference. Much as you cannot reproduce a sound that you can’t hear, you can’t accept or adapt to cultural difference that you cannot perceive.

So how does the AUCP encourage intercultural competence?

Students at the AUCP, through immersion and host culture engagement, are given multiple opportunities to benefit from the full cycle of experiential learning. Not only do AUCP students make record progress in the IDI (ten times more than other students abroad, as documented by the 2005-7 Georgetown Consortium Study), but, as a result of their developing skill, they make lasting friendships abroad, getting past the superficial same-information conversations that limit other students to tourist status.

The AUCP guides students’ intercultural development, helping them to move from ethnocentrist worldview towards an ethnorelativist one. Systematically, over 40% of AUCP students make the difficult transition from Minimization to Acceptance/Adaptation on the Intercultural Development Continuum – reflecting a world view construct which acknowledges and respects cultural difference and allows for the intentional adaptation of personal behavior in order to integrate and accommodate that difference — an unparalleled achievement for American students abroad.


Understanding the IDI
For a hi-res pdf version of the IDI Infographic click here.
To learn more about the IDI and what scores mean, click here.