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two females two religions
Two females, each with a different religion

Denial mindset

Denial is the early stage of the ethnocentric way of making meaning when encountering differences or diversity. The developmental model of intercultural sensitivity (DMIS) by Milton Bennett proposed denial as a mindset that reflects minimal recognition of differences and diversity. A person with a denial perspective lacks interest in diversity and may even avoid others who are different from them.

A person with a denial-way of making meaning when encountering diversity may easily recognize differences like diverse religious holidays, differences in food between cultures and people, styles of music, or different ways of speaking. What is usually not recognized and perceived are differences in behaviors, attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs. A denial perspective may totally miss differences in communication styles in a conversation. Diverse populations feel ignored because differences are simply missed.

A person with a denial way of making meaning when faced with diversity may say something like, “I have never had to think about it …” or “I do not have much contact with …”. They may say “As long as we all speak the same language …” or “I can be successful in any culture”.

The developmental task for a person with the ethnocentric denial view of diversity is to begin to recognize the existence of diversity and cultural differences. The skills associated with this task are the abilities to gather accurate information about diverse others and to initiate contact with people unlike themselves. They begin to foster trust, friendliness, and cooperation with diverse people.

Your assignment for this step is to identify a group of people very different from you. Maybe this group is a different ethnicity, age, level of education, or socioeconomic background. Perhaps this diverse group is from a different political party, another national origin, or has a different appearance. Do some research on this group, perhaps online, and identify things you learned about this group that you never knew or understood.

Please click the comment button below and share what you learned from your research. Then comment on what two or three other learners shared about diverse others. Please remember to be respectful and understanding. This is an exercise in being non-judgmental in our exploration and learning.

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This article is from the free online course:

Understanding Diversity and Inclusion

Purdue University

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