The Culture Bump Approach (CBA) provides a structure for guiding individuals through Milton Bennett’s (1986) Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS). Bennett described six developmental stages for developing cultural sensitivity – Denial, Defense, Minimization, Acceptance, Adaptation, and Integration. He further divides the six stages of development into two groups, ethnocentric and ethnorelative stages. For more information on the DMIS, click here. (Coming Soon)
The Culture Bump Approach (CBA) for dealing with differences provides the content and experiences needed for individuals to progress through these six stages. In fact, the DMIS provided the framework for assessing the effectiveness of the Culture Bump Approach with three separate groups. For more information on this research, click here. The Culture Bump Approach works for individuals in the ethnocentric stages by bringing into consciousness the existence of differences and teaching the learner to recognize and accept them. Since this is done in a risk-free environment, the impact of defense and minimization is greatly reduced. Indeed, it provides an excellent bridge from minimization (stage 3 of ethnocentrism) to acceptance (stage 4 of ethnorelativism).
Furthermore, for those individuals in the ethnorelative stages, when individuals comprehend the role of culture in people’s behavior and values, training in the culture bump approach enables them to, not only accept differences, but also to eventually understand them from the perspective of the target culture. In this way, participants move from acceptance (stage 4 of ethnorelativism) to adaptation (stage 5 of ethnorelativism). Adaptation is facilitated by the CBA focus on skill development such as appropriate non-verbal and verbal communication in a given context. Individuals are then able to function in the last stage of cultural sensitivity which Bennett refers to as “shifting frame of reference.” Individuals can now interpret another culture’s behavior correctly by using their frame of reference, including their value system.
Thus it can be seen that the Bennett model provides the framework of the process one goes through when one develops cultural competence. The Culture Bump Approach provides the structured content for progressing to the higher stages of cultural sensitivity and relativity.
Bennett, M. J. (1986) A developmental approach to training for intercultural sensitivity. International Journal of Intercultural Relations , 10 , 17-95
A Quick Quiz of Cultural Sensitivity
(Answers will be tweeted on Friday, September 26)