Development of the Global Perspective Inventory (GPI)

Its Purpose, Construction, and Potential Uses

Larry A. Braskamp, David C. Braskamp, and Kelly Carter Merrill


Every one of us is on a journey, a journey of life. In this journey, we grow, change, and develop along several dimensions ---intellectual, social, civic, physical, moral, spiritual, and religious simultaneously. In short, we develop holistically not departmentally. In this journey of life, we, and especially during the traditional college years of ages 18-24, are actively involved in asking several questions about ourselves, including these three.

In our pluralistic society answering these questions of life now requires a global perspective. We no longer can think in terms of living in a world in which we can or should avoid learning, meeting, and living with others with very different cultural backgrounds, habits, perspectives, customs, religious beliefs, and aspirations. In short, we live in a global world, in which multiple perspectives about on knowing, sense of identity, and relationships with others are distinct and serve as powerful influences in our society.

Domains of Holistic Development

Our view of holistic human development is anchored by two theoretical perspectives: intercultural maturity and intercultural communication. The first is based on the seminal work of Robert Kegan (In Over our Heads, 1994) who has argued that as people grow they are engaged in meaning making, i.e., trying to make sense of their journey in life. In doing so they not only rely on their thinking, but also their feelings and relating with others in forming and reforming their journey in life. He has identified and labeled three major domains of human development: cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal. Patricia King and Marcia Baxter Magolda (2005) refined these domains in describing students in their social-cultural development during their college years. In the context of a global society, they called this developmental view "intercultural maturity."

Second, intercultural communication scholars also have recognized the cognitive, affirmative, and behavioral domains (i.e., the thinking, feeling, and relating domains) as important to individual success with communicating in intercultural contexts. To be an optimally functioning communicator in a pluralistic society, individuals need to be competent and sensitive within these domains.

In summary, all human beings experience, grow, change, and develop during their life along intellectual, social, interpersonal, emotional, physical, and spiritual dimensions. Persons do not develop their cognitive skills and learn to think with more complexity separate from further developing their emotional maturity, their sense of self and identity, and their ability to relate to others. Instead they develop simultaneously along several dimensions and are continuously seeking answers to the three questions posed above. The three domains are depicted as interconnecting circles in the figure below to stress their interrelationship and integration. Understanding holistic human development includes thinking, feeling and relating because they represent interrelated facets of human development for study and communication.

"How do I know?" reflects the Cognitive domain. Cognitive development is centered on one's knowledge and understanding of what is true and important to know. It includes viewing knowledge and knowing with greater complexity and taking into account multiple cultural perspectives. Reliance on external authorities to have absolute truth gives way to relativism when making commitments within the context of uncertainty.

"Who am I?" reflects and highlights the Intrapersonal domain. Intrapersonal development focuses on one becoming more aware of and integrating one's personal values and self-identity into one's personhood. The end of this journey on this dimension is a sense of self-direction and purpose in one's life, becoming more self aware of one's strengths, values, and personal characteristics and sense of self, and viewing one's development in terms of one's self-identity. An ability to incorporate different and often conflicting ideas about who one is from an increasingly multicultural world is now an important aspect of developing a confident self-identity.

"How do I relate to others?" reflects the Interpersonal domain. Interpersonal development is centered on one's willingness to interact with persons with different social norms and cultural backgrounds, acceptance of others, and being comfortable when relating to others. It includes being able to view others differently; seeing one's own uniqueness; and relating to others moving from dependency to independence to interdependence, which is a paradoxical merger.

Several authors from different disciplines and perspectives have used the integration of these three domains to highlight a holistic perspective on human development. Various terms are used to portray the integration of the thinking, feeling, and relating, as shown in the chart that maps these terms.

Theme Thinking Feeling Relating Author(s)
Self-Authorship Cognitive Intrapersonal Interpersonal Kegan (1994)
Intercultural Maturity Cognitive Intrapersonal Interpersonal King & Baxter-Magolda (2005)
Intercultural communication competence Cognitive/ Awareness Affective/Sensitivity Behavior/Adroitness Chen & Storosta (1994)
Individual Diversity Development Cognitive Affective Behavior Chavez, Guido-DiBrito, & Mallory (2003)
Intercultural Sensitivity Cognitive Affect Behavior Bennett (1993)
Faith development Forms of Knowing Forms of Dependence Forms of Community Parks (2000)
Personal Development Mind Spirit Body -
Personal Development Head Heart Hands -
Holistic Human Development How do I know? Who am I? How do I relate to others? -

GPI Scales

Each domain--cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal-- has two scales with one reflecting the theory of cultural development and the other reflecting intercultural communication theory. For example, the cognitive domain includes knowing and knowledge scales. The scale, Knowing, stresses the complexity of thinking which is "content free" (intercultural developmental focus). The scale, Knowledge, portrays a level of acquisition of knowledge about multicultural issues (intercultural communication focus). The intrapersonal domain includes identity and affect scales. The interpersonal domain includes social interaction and social responsibility.

Cognitive Domain Scales

Intrapersonal Domain Scales

Interpersonal Domain Scales


Construction of GPI

The GPI is designed so that persons of any age or specific cultural group (e.g., nationality or racial group) can take the set of items. The selected items do not focus on growth and development only appropriate or limited to college students as a result of a specific collegiate experience (e.g., study abroad). Rather the items in the GPI are meant to portray markers in a journey in which persons of all ages are constantly asking questions about how they think, feel, and relate to others.

Potential Uses

Although the GPI can be used with persons of all ages, one important population is college students. For this population, evidence of students' global perspective of their development can be useful for these types of programs and audiences.

In all of these potential uses, the working principle we wish to emphasize is this: At its best, assessment focuses discussion. The responses to the GPI are most useful when those responsible for creating the environment to foster development with a global perspective meet to discuss the evidence and consider how adjustments in the environment would most likely enhance a globally oriented holistic human development.


Bennett, M. J. (1993). Toward ethnorelativism: A developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. In R. M. Paige (Ed.), Education for the intercultural experience (pp. 21 – 71). Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

Braskamp, L. A., Braskamp, D. C. & Merrill, K. C. (2007). Global Perspective Inventory.

Braskamp, L. A., Trautvetter, L. C. and Ward K. (2006). Putting students first: How colleges develop students purposefully. Bolton, MA: Anker.

Chavez, A. F., Guido-DiBrito, F., & Mallory, S. L. (2003). Learning to value the "other": A framework of individual diversity development. Journal of College Student Development, 44(4), 453-469.

Chen, G. M., & Starosta, W. J. (1996). Intercultural communication competence: A synthesis. Communication Yearbook, 19, 353-384.

Kegan, R. (1994). In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

King, P. and Baxter Magolda, M. (2005). A developmental model of intercultural maturity. Journal of college student development, 571-592.

Parks, S. (2000). Big Dreams, Worthy Questions. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.