The definition of culture that the IDI uses is as follows:
- Each of us has a worldview that is related to participation in one or more culture groups. These groups are typically defined by national and/or ethnic boundaries, but they may also represent other affiliations, such as region, religion, gender, sexuality, ability, etc. In the IDI, terms such as "our culture" or "my culture" refer to the culture group(s) to which you feel you "belong" the most. The terms "other cultures," "people from different cultures," or "different cultures" refer to groups to which you do not feel you belong.
Thus, "my culture" would encompass all the identities the respondent holds, accounting for their unique lens of the intersection of their identities, while "other cultures" would include groups they do not identify as belonging to. How we make meaning of commonalities and differences is shaped by how we experience the complexities of who we are and the various identities we hold. Thus, the way that a participant responds to the items on the IDI will be representative of the mindset in how they generally approach cultural difference regardless of the particular aspect of their identity they were considering in that moment. While taking the IDI, the respondent can change "my culture" to "my cultures" as they read the statements if that is helpful.
In addition, the IDI is designed and validated as a “culture-general” measure of intercultural competence. This means that the IDI results describe a general orientation toward making sense of and responding to cultural differences across other cultural communities generally as well as within cultural or group contexts. This is because people tend to maintain cognitive consistency in the way they approach cultural differences.