General CQ Questions

Very few people interact only with those who are culturally homogeneous. Cultural diversity exists in most organizations and in many supplier and customer relationships. Thus, CQ is relevant to almost everyone. It can be used to understand and deal with differences in national culture, ethnicity, gender, generation, organizational culture, professional culture, geographic region, and so forth.
There are more than 300 models of cultural competence with dozens of corresponding inventories. Most of these models are not based on a coherent theoretical model, and as a result, many of them mix together attitudes, personality traits (stable), values, experience, and capabilities (learned skills). Cultural intelligence, or CQ, is the capability to function effectively in culturally diverse situations. It is based on Sternberg & Detterman’s multiple loci theory of intelligence. CQ focuses specifically on learned skills that are critical for functioning effectively in culturally diverse environments. Skills, unlike values and personality, can be developed and improved through education, training, and experience.
Both. Cultural intelligence research and its practical application occur in cross-border, international contexts (e.g., preparing expats for overseas assignments, study abroad programs, helping global teams, etc.), and in domestic contexts (e.g., multicultural teams, diversity and inclusion programs, unconscious bias training, etc.). CQ also can be used to provide insights into how individuals will function across other types of cultures such as those based on generational differences, organizational cultures, functional differences, and so forth. Many organizations use CQ as a model for addressing both international and domestic interactions, as well as working across a broad range of cultural differences.
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to detect and regulate the emotions of yourself and others. It’s a critical capability needed to work effectively with others. However, emotional intelligence is culturally conditioned. For example, the nonverbal behaviors that indicate someone is upset vary across cultures. A smile means different things in different cultures. Cultural intelligence picks up where emotional intelligence leaves off and allows you to have the social sensibilities and practical skills to work and relate effectively with people from novel cultures.
Although Howard Gardiner’s work offers many valuable insights for the different ways individuals develop and learn, cultural intelligence is based on Sternberg and Detterman’s multiple loci theory of intelligence. This perspective emphasizes the different loci of intelligence needed to succeed in our 21st century environment (e.g., mental and behavioral capabilities).
No. There are no meaningful differences in CQ scores based on country or part of the world. Instead, there are people who have low, moderate, and high scores throughout the world. Although people sometimes expect that those who live in highly diverse cities or places where multiple languages are spoken will automatically have higher CQ than those living in more homogeneous areas, this is not accurate. Furthermore, being part of an underrepresented group doesn’t automatically give someone higher CQ. Living in a culturally diverse setting as a minority generally provides more opportunities for intercultural interaction and adaptation but does not necessarily lead to higher CQ capabilities. Therefore, even though hands-on experiences are one of the best ways to improve cultural intelligence, it’s not automatic. It depends on how people approach these opportunities, the extent to which they genuinely engage with people from different backgrounds, and how they react to and reflect on those experiences.
In keeping with the academic research on other forms of intelligence (e.g., IQ, EQ, SQ, etc.), we use the acronym CQ to show that cultural intelligence is another form of research-based intelligence. The Cultural Intelligence Center owns the copyright to the academically validated Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS) and Expanded Cultural Intelligence Scale (E-CQS), and so we refer to our work as CQ.
One way to develop cultural intelligence is to focus first on the motivation to engage with different cultures (CQ Drive). Then it makes sense to gain an understanding of core cultural differences (CQ Knowledge). Next, you can use your knowledge of how cultures are similar and different to consciously plan for multicultural interactions (CQ Strategy). The final step is to make sure that your behavior is flexibly appropriate for different cultural settings (CQ Action). This is not the only way to develop CQ, but it provides one way of thinking about how you can enhance your CQ.