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International mobility is a prevalent life event that particularly affects university students. The aim of this longitudinal study was twofold: First, we examined the impact of international mobility on personality (Big Five) change, separating self-selection effects from socialization processes. Second, we extended prior analyses on the association between life events and personality development by investigating the mechanisms that account for socialization processes. In particular, we assessed whether individual differences in the fluctuation of support relationships serve as an explanatory link. We used a prospective control group design with 3 measurement occasions. A sample of university students, containing both short-term (i.e., 1 semester) and long-term (i.e., 1 academic year) sojourners (N = 527) along with control students (N = 607), was tracked over the course of an academic year. Multivariate latent models revealed 3 main findings: First, initial (pre-departure) levels of Extraversion and Conscientiousness predicted short-term sojourning, and Extraversion and Openness predicted long-term sojourning. Second, both forms of sojourning were associated with increases in Openness and Agreeableness and a decrease in Neuroticism above and beyond the observed self-selection. Third, the acquisition of new international support relationships largely accounted for the sojourn effects on personality change. These findings help to fill the missing link between life events and personality development by establishing social relationship fluctuation as an important mediating mechanism. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
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Do We Become a Different Person When Hitting the Road?
Personality Development of Sojourners
Julia Zimmermann and Franz J. Neyer
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
International mobility is a prevalent life event that particularly affects university students. The aim of this
longitudinal study was twofold: First, we examined the impact of international mobility on personality
(Big Five) change, separating self-selection effects from socialization processes. Second, we extended
prior analyses on the association between life events and personality development by investigating the
mechanisms that account for socialization processes. In particular, we assessed whether individual
differences in the fluctuation of support relationships serve as an explanatory link. We used a prospective
control group design with 3 measurement occasions. A sample of university students, containing both
short-term (i.e., 1 semester) and long-term (i.e., 1 academic year) sojourners (N527) along with control
students (N607), was tracked over the course of an academic year. Multivariate latent models revealed
3 main findings: First, initial (pre-departure) levels of Extraversion and Conscientiousness predicted
short-term sojourning, and Extraversion and Openness predicted long-term sojourning. Second, both
forms of sojourning were associated with increases in Openness and Agreeableness and a decrease in
Neuroticism above and beyond the observed self-selection. Third, the acquisition of new international
support relationships largely accounted for the sojourn effects on personality change. These findings help
to fill the missing link between life events and personality development by establishing social relation-
ship fluctuation as an important mediating mechanism.
Keywords: personality development, international mobility, social relationships, young adulthood
Internationalization has wide ranging effects on various fields of
contemporary living, including academic education and profes-
sional life. As a consequence, the number of student sojourners
(i.e., university students who pursue some of their academic edu-
cation on campuses abroad) increased from a few hundred sojourn-
ers per year in the 1980s to about 25% of Germany’s enrolled
students in the 2010s (Heublein, Schreiber, & Hutzsch, 2011).
Recent publications on the psychological conditions and conse-
quences of students’ international sojourn experiences character-
ized them as major life events and showed that the effects of
sojourning went far beyond academic benefits and had long-term
personal and social consequences (Andrews, Page, & Neilson,
1993;Leong & Ward, 2000;Searle & Ward, 1990;Ying, 2002).
Against the background of these findings, international mobility
qualifies as an optimal setting to extend previous research on
personality-environment transactions. With the longitudinal study
“PEDES—Personality Development of Sojourners,” we assessed
sojourn effects on personality development. The implementation
of a prospective control group design with three measurement
occasions allowed us to separate the effects of personality deter-
mined self-selection from socialization processes. In addition, we
extended previous research on the dynamic interplay between life
events and personality development by examining the fluctuation
of support relationships as a mechanism which accounts for so-
cialization processes.
Always on the Road? International Mobility of
Young Academics
We argue that international mobility is a relevant life event for
the personality development of young adults. First, international
sojourns have become increasingly important as both European
educational boards and employers have strong expectations re-
garding young academics’ international experiences and their sub-
sequent readiness for global job mobility (Bundesministerium für
Bildung und Forschung, 2009;Council of the European Union,
2009;Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, 2011). Second,
conceptual commonalities between international mobility and
other life transitions (Roberts & Wood, 2006;Roberts, Wood, &
Smith, 2005) become obvious once we consider the particular role
of social relationships. It has been argued that social relationships
are the most important sources of environmental continuity and
change (Caspi, 2000)—so much so that “[life] transitions reflect,
first and foremost, relationship transitions” (Neyer & Lehnart,
2007, p. 536). From this perspective, the most important transi-
tions of young adulthood, such as leaving the parental home,
entering the world of work, engaging in romantic relationships, or
becoming a parent, may be understood as changes in social rela-
This article was published Online First June 17, 2013.
Julia Zimmermann and Franz J. Neyer, Institut für Psychologie,
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Jena, Germany.
We thank Matthias Warken for the technical support concerning the
implementation of the online questionnaires.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Julia Zim-
mermann, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Institut für Psychologie, Hum-
boldtstr. 11, D-07743 Jena, Germany. E-mail:
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology © 2013 American Psychological Association
2013, Vol. 105, No. 3, 515–530 0022-3514/13/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0033019
Accordingly, recent studies on residential mobility experiences
have provided evidence for their causal effect on social relation-
ships and the self (Lun, Oishi, & Tenney, 2012;Oishi et al., 2007)
and have suggested that the residential mobility effects on the self
are mediated in large parts by the changes in social networks
(Oishi, 2010;Oishi & Talhelm, 2012). Even though temporary
international sojourn experiences differ from permanent residential
moves, we contend that these experiences likewise promote fun-
damental changes of social relationships.
In particular, the large spatial distance from familiar acquain-
tances and the changed living conditions while studying abroad are
likely to put a strain on sojourners’ preexisting relationships.
Simultaneously, sojourning individuals are confronted with the
challenge to establish and maintain new social relationships within
a foreign and intercultural context. Bochner, McLeod, and Lin
(1977) observed that international sojourns promote, primarily, the
international diversity of support relationships. For example, so-
journers turn to fellow international students or host country stu-
dents for companionship or help with academic matters. Surpris-
ingly, despite the tremendous increase of student sojourners over
the last decades, the changes and challenges of sojourners’ social
relationships have not yet been systematically researched.
Summarizing, we suggest that international mobility as an im-
portant event in numerous students’ lives is best characterized in
terms of the associated relationship dynamics. On the one hand, it
shares common ground with age-related transitions, such as leav-
ing the parental home or starting a romantic relationship, and with
residential mobility experiences in general. All these transitions
and experiences involve social relationship changes (Neyer &
Lehnart, 2007;Oishi, 2010;Oishi & Talhelm, 2012), which pro-
vide the social contingencies for personality development (Caspi
& Roberts, 1999;Roberts & Wood, 2006). On the other hand,
international mobility experiences differ from most life transitions
as they do not only expose sojourners to a new but, first of all,
internationally diverse social environment. Consequently, we hy-
pothesize that international sojourns affect personality develop-
ment and that these socialization effects are best explained by
social relationship changes that refer to new international relation-
ships (Bochner et al., 1977;Oishi, 2010;Oishi & Talhelm, 2012).
Stability or Change? Personality Traits in
Young Adulthood
The last decades of research on personality development have
been dominated by a controversy on both the general changeability
of the Big Five traits (Costa & McCrae, 1988;Srivastava, John,
Gosling, & Potter, 2003) and the age limit that constrains person-
ality development (Costa & McCrae, 2006;Roberts, Walton, &
Viechtbauer, 2006). In the meantime, several meta-analyses and
large-scale studies have shown that both rank-order dynamics and
mean-level changes extend far into old age (Lucas & Donnellan,
2011;Roberts & DelVecchio, 2000;Roberts et al., 2006;Specht,
Egloff, & Schmukle, 2011) and have identified young adulthood as
the most dynamic period of personality development (Roberts et
al., 2006;Robins, Fraley, Roberts, & Trzesniewski, 2001). The
universal mean-level trends during this developmental time-span
illustrate that most individuals become more conscientious, agree-
able, and emotionally stable during the passage from adolescence
to adulthood.
The trends observed for Openness and Extraversion are diverse.
All recent studies have reported some form of mean-level change
in Openness; however, results are contradictory since they advo-
cate either trends of decrease (Lucas & Donellan, 2011;Specht et
al., 2011) or increase (Roberts et al., 2006;Robins et al., 2001).
With respect to Extraversion, there is evidence that the develop-
mental trajectories differ depending on the facet under study
(Roberts et al., 2006).
There is a consensus that the mechanisms accounting for these
Big Five mean-level changes can be traced back to both genetic
and environmental influences (Bleidorn, Kandler, Riemann, An-
gleitner, & Spinath, 2009;Kandler, Bleidorn, Riemann, Angleit-
ner, & Spinath, 2012;Roberts, Caspi, & Moffitt, 2003), and the
decisive role of age-graded life transitions is broadly acknowl-
edged (Roberts & Wood, 2006;Roberts, Wood, & Caspi, 2008).
According to the Social Investment Principle, the course of these
developmental trajectories is primarily explained in terms of age-
graded social investments, that is to say, commitments to social
roles which are typically adopted in young adulthood (Lodi-Smith
& Roberts, 2007;Roberts & Wood, 2006).
However, besides these mean-level patterns of personality de-
velopment, many studies of young adults have documented indi-
vidual deviations from these trajectories and showed that some
individuals may show an increase pertaining to a certain person-
ality trait, while others decrease (Donnellan, Conger, & Burzette,
2007;Lüdtke, Trautwein, & Husemann, 2009;Vaidya, Gray, Haig,
& Watson, 2002). These individual deviations have been discussed
in terms of interindividual differences in the accomplishment of
age-graded life transitions (Hudson, Roberts, & Lodi-Smith, 2012;
Lehnart, Neyer, & Eccles, 2010;Neyer & Lehnart, 2007;Roberts
& Caspi, 2003;Roberts et al., 2003) or consequences of rather
non-normative life events (Löckenhoff, Terracciano, Patriciu, Ea-
ton, & Costa, 2009;Lüdtke, Roberts, Trautwein, & Nagy, 2011;
Mroczek & Spiro, 2003).
What Makes the Difference? Life Events and
Individual Differences in Change
Life events open up contexts of individual differences in per-
sonality development and were for a long time understood as
randomly arising incidents (Sarason, Johnson, & Siegel, 1978).
However, there is growing evidence for systematic interindividual
differences in the occurrence of these events, and that these dif-
ferences are linked to personality traits (Jokela, 2009;Lüdtke et al.,
2011;Specht et al., 2011). This mechanism is also referred to as
“self-selection.” Based on previous findings pertaining to person-
ality traits and mobility within one’s own country (Jokela, 2009;
Jokela, Elovainio, Kivimäki, & Keltikangas-Järvinen, 2008), we
expected to find sustainable self-selection effects for Extraversion.
However, some previous studies have found that increased levels
of Openness (Jokela, 2009;Lüdtke et al., 2011) and either reduced
or elevated levels of Agreeableness (Jokela, 2009;Lüdtke et al.,
2011) and Neuroticism (Jokela et al., 2008;Lüdtke et al., 2011;
Silventoinen et al., 2008) predict mobility experiences. Hence, we
were particularly interested in clarifying the contribution of these
three trait domains to self-selection effects.
Above and beyond self-selection effects, the occurrence of life
events is related to distinct patterns of subsequent personality
development, which are referred to as “socialization” (Löckenhoff
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This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
et al., 2009;Mroczek & Spiro, 2003). Earlier studies (Lüdtke et al.,
2011;Ying, 2002) identified sojourn effects on the trajectories of
Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Apart from that,
the Corresponsive Principle suggests that selection and socializa-
tion are not independent of each other, rather “the most likely
effect of life experience on personality development is to deepen
the characteristics that lead people to those experiences” (Roberts
et al., 2003, p. 583). As only a few studies have embarked upon a
systematic empirical examination of such corresponsive develop-
mental patterns, we endeavored to investigate whether the Corre-
sponsive Principle holds in the context of international mobility
experiences. This would require the exclusive identification of
socialization processes which match the pattern of self-selection
Likewise, the mechanisms that account for socialization pro-
cesses as well as the time it takes for these processes to unfold
have not yet been thoroughly investigated. For the case of inter-
national mobility, we propose the mechanisms of relationship
fluctuation as being particularly relevant. Caspi and Roberts
(1999) suggested that the role of relationships in personality de-
velopment can be conceived of as learning from relevant others by
either modeling their behaviors or by incorporating their feedback.
Accordingly, personality change may occur in response to quali-
tative changes in established relationships, or as a consequence of
quantitative changes such as relationship fluctuation, that is the
replacement of established relationships by new ones (Feld, Suitor,
& Hoegh, 2007;Sturaro, Denissen, van Aken, & Asendorpf,
Individuals who move to another country are particularly faced
with relationship fluctuation (Degenne & Lebeaux, 2005;Lubbers
et al., 2010). Social relationships that provide emotional support,
instrumental support or companionship are particularly important
for people on the move (Bochner et al., 1977;de Miguel Luken &
Tranmer, 2010). Staying abroad offers plenty of opportunities to
engage in new social relationships with either other sojourners
from the country of origin (national relationships) or members of
the host country and other international sojourners (international
relationships) (Bochner et al., 1977). The available support rela-
tionships will thus be partly replaced by new and most likely
international relationships. Therefore, we suggest that international
relationship gains constitute an important mediator in explaining
possible sojourn effects on personality development.
Regarding the timing of sojourn effects, recent studies on psy-
chological and sociocultural adaptation suggest that adjustment
difficulties are greatest during the early phases of the foray into the
new culture, but then decrease until they reach a stable level
(Furukawa & Shibayama, 1993,1994;Ward, Okura, Kennedy, &
Kojima, 1998). It seems to take sojourners about 46 months to
overcome any mood disturbances related to their entrance into a
new cultural context (psychological adaptation) and to settle down
and get along with everyday matters of work, life, and social
communication (sociocultural adaptation). Based on this observa-
tion, we assume that sustainable sojourn effects on personality
development might at earliest be identified once these initial
adaptation stages have been accomplished. We thus implemented
a first follow-up measurement approximately 5 months after so-
journers’ arrival in their host countries (T2) and scheduled another
occasion of data collection by the end of the academic year (T3).
With these measurement intervals we were further able to compare
socialization trajectories of sojourners who stayed abroad for one
academic term of about 5 months (i.e., short-term sojourners) and
sojourners who spent the full academic year of about 8 months
(i.e., long-term sojourners) abroad.
The Present Study
A sample of N1,134 students (containing N527 sojourners
and N607 control students) was tracked over the course of an
academic year. Participants were approached several weeks before
the academic year started and presented with an introductory
questionnaire, which asked them about their future international
mobility plans and accordingly assigned them to either the control
or the sojourner groups. Waves of data collection included an
initial assessment at the beginning of the academic year, a second
approximately 5 months later, and a third around 8 months after
that. Members of the control group were approached on pre-
arranged dates, but, for the sojourner groups, we established reg-
ular intervals between the times of data collection by coordinating
all further measurements based on their proposed dates of depar-
ture and return.
As outlined above, we investigated three research questions.
First, we aspired to identify contingencies between (pre-departure)
personality traits and the self-selection into international mobility
experiences (selection hypothesis).
Second, we addressed sojourn effects on personality develop-
ment (socialization hypothesis) and assessed incidents of corre-
sponsive personality development in the context of international
mobility experiences. We further aimed to clarify if (a) the in-
tended time to stay abroad or (b) the actual duration of the sojourn
experience had any effects on patterns of trait development. To
investigate the effects of the intended time to stay abroad, we first
compared socialization patterns of short-term (i.e., one semester)
and long-term (i.e., one academic year) sojourners during the
measurement interval of the first five months (T1–T2), where both
groups lived abroad. Second, to learn about the impact of the
actual sojourn duration, we compared socialization patterns of
long-term sojourners across two measurement intervals: their first
five months abroad (T1–T2) or the full observation period of an
academic year (T1–T3).
Third, we set out to clarify the mechanisms that account for the
socializing effects of life experiences (mediation hypothesis). To
meet this challenge, we examined indicators of relationship fluc-
tuation (i.e., the respective numbers of lost and new national and
international support relationships) as mediators of socialization
effects. We supposed international mobility experiences as pro-
moting a general increase in relationship fluctuation, but in par-
ticular to bring about new international contacts and thus increase
the international diversity of sojourners’ support networks. As a
consequence, we expected international relationship gains to play
a major role in the explanation of sojourn effects. However, we
were eager to assess all particular effects of losses and gains with
respect to both national and international support relationships.
Participants and Procedure
Participants of the PEDES (Personality Development of So-
journers) longitudinal study were recruited nationwide using var-
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This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
ious strategies, for example postings via the mailing lists of fac-
ulties and university clubs or on target group relevant online social
network sites. Additionally, the international offices of all German
universities (of applied sciences) and art academies were requested
to forward our invitation e-mail to students registered for interna-
tional exchange programs starting in the winter term of 2009.
Participants from approximately 200 different institutions of
higher education accepted our invitation.
We implemented an online study with a personalized research
design that prevented multiple registrations by the same individual.
As a feature of this design, participants could interrupt and con-
tinue the completion of the online questionnaires at their conve-
nience. Furthermore, it allowed us to track participants’ progress in
completing the questionnaires and enabled us to remind them of
any outstanding questions whenever necessary. The personalized
design was used throughout the study (i.e., for the introductory
questionnaire and the three subsequent occasions of data collec-
In the introductory questionnaire, participants provided some
basic demographic information and declared their international
mobility plans with regard to any possible trips abroad lasting
more than two months that were expected to happen within the
next 12 months. Participants who did not indicate any international
mobility intentions were assigned to the control group; sojourners
with concrete international mobility plans were asked to specify
their destination and date of departure. The declared date of
departure was used to plan regular measurement intervals for all
three following measurement occasions. More specifically, all
sojourners received an e-mail with their personalized link to their
first full questionnaire 2 weeks before their individual date of
departure (T1), the second one 20 weeks (T2) after the transition
abroad. The timing of the third occasion of data collection was
further dependent upon the individual duration of stay as recorded
at T2. Sojourners who indicated they would further stay abroad for
a residual time of more than 12 weeks were categorized as long-
term sojourners and received their third questionnaire 32 weeks
after their individual date of departure (T3) while they were still
living abroad. By contrast, sojourners who either indicated a return
to Germany within the next 12 weeks (short-term sojourners) or
had already returned to Germany at the second occasion of data
collection (visitors) were classified in different groups and sepa-
rated from the regular measurement circle, as they would either
cease their experience abroad in the near future (short-term so-
journers) or had already left their foreign destination (visitors).
Measurement occasions for participants of the control group
were established at intervals comparable to the long-term sojourn-
ers, more precisely about 20 weeks (April 6, 2010) and about 32
weeks (July 12, 2010) after the first occasion of data collection at
the beginning of the academic year 2009/2010 (October 26, 2009).
To prevent any untimely completion, all questionnaires were
only available for participants’ input once the respective invitation
e-mail had been sent out. Participants were only invited to subse-
quent waves of data collection when they had completed the
preceding questionnaire on time. Participation in the study was
voluntary and not financially remunerated. However, interested
individuals were offered to participate in a lottery game with a
non-cash prize and to receive individual feedback after the com-
pletion of the longitudinal study as a reward for their services.
From the individuals who initially registered for participation in
the study (N5,317), N3,427 completed the first measure-
ment, and a panel sample of N1,836 provided Big Five
personality data at all measurement occasions.
According to Ru-
bin’s (1976) missing data typology, missing values can be com-
pletely at random (MCAR), missing at random (MAR) or missing
not at random (MNAR), with MCAR and MAR being considered
to constitute ignorable non-response. Little’s MCAR test assesses
the assumption that MCAR can be assumed instead of MAR which
means that missing values are independent of observed values in a
defined set of other variables. First, we conducted MCAR tests as
implemented in SPSS Version 20.0 (IBM Corporation, 2011)
using the data of all participants who accomplished the first
measurement (N3,427), and we found no indication that par-
ticipants’ age, sex, initial Big Five trait levels, or the home uni-
versity would predict panel attrition,
(5) 1.69, p.890.
Second, we repeated the MCAR tests with the data of all sojourn-
ers and were able to rule out host country effects on panel attrition,
(5) 0.27, p.998.
Additionally, to ensure optimal data quality and to enable a strict
test of our hypotheses, we precluded several data sets from the
main analyses based on the following reasons. First, to obtain a
strictly defined internationally inexperienced control group, we did
not consider the data of N331 control students who had either
indicated previous experiences of more than 2 months spent
abroad or spontaneous mobility plans that coincided with the study
period. Secondly, we excluded participants from the sojourner
sample who either had not fully completed the first (pre-departure)
questionnaire before their departure (N108), or numbered more
than one country of residence for the succeeding months abroad
(N7). This was necessary to both ensure stable baseline mea-
sures, since assessments in the aftermath of a transition abroad
may have already been affected by the event’s experience, and
comparable nonrecurring transition experiences. Third, we would
enhance the comparability of the international mobility experi-
ences by restricting our analyses to sojourners who spent at least 5
months (one semester) abroad (i.e., short-term sojourners [N
230] and long-term sojourners [N297]). The data sets of visitors
(N256) who had already moved back to Germany before the
second assessment had taken place, were not taken into account for
the current analyses. Repeated MCAR tests revealed that the
cleansing procedures did not produce any systematic sample bias,
(5) 1.74, p.884.
The overall analysis sample (N1,134) comprised 21.8% male
participants, almost equally distributed across the three groups
(21.7% male short-term sojourners, 25.3% male long-term so-
journers, and 20.1% male control students). Similarly, the mean
age was largely comparable (22.8 years [SD 1.9], 22.6 years
[SD 1.9], and 22.5 years [SD 3.0]).
Comparing initial Big Five trait scores to those of a represen-
tatively selected sample of young German adults (N160, mean
age 30.7 years, SD 5.7) compiled by Lang, Lüdtke, and
Asendorpf (2001), we found that our sample was to a large extent
We only included data sets with a maximum of 20% missing data per
scale (Downey & King, 1998). However, as the online questionnaire was
based, for the most part, on forced choice items, only scattered missings
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comparable to the representative sample, as differences in Open-
ness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Agreeableness reached
only negligible to small effect sizes. However, our sample was
characterized by a higher level of Neuroticism (Cohen’s d0.47).
Against the background of a known consistent and substantial
decrease in Neuroticism across the years of young adulthood
(Roberts et al., 2006;Robins et al., 2001;Specht et al., 2011), these
differences are likely to be explained by the fact that our partici-
pants were on average about 8 years younger than the representa-
tive sample.
The vast majority of sojourners (82%) spent their year abroad on
EU-European campuses, which further contributed to the compa-
rability of mobility experiences. Almost all sojourners indicated
the intention to study in their host countries (94%). Only a handful
of participants intended to use their sojourn to do an internship
(4%) or had some other unspecified plans (2%). On average,
sojourners were quite confident in their ability to manage everyday
encounters regarding their host countries’ languages, the average
self-rating about pre-departure language competence on a 7-point-
likert scale was M4.5 (SD 1.9).
In both the short-term and long-term groups, Spain was the most
popular country of destination (33% and 19%), followed by France
(18% and 17%), and the United Kingdom (11% and 15%). In other
words, 62% of short-term sojourners and 51% of long-term so-
journers went to one of the three most favored countries. These
numbers are in line with the national averages among all German
students who moved abroad on EU-sponsored ERASMUS grants
during the academic year 2009/2010. According to official statis-
tics, about 52% of all 28.854 German ERASMUS-Outgoings
moved to Spain (20.4%), France (17.3%), or the United Kingdom
(13.8%) (European Commission, 2013). In terms of travel desti-
nations, the present sojourn groups compare well to the national
We assessed possible influences of the host countries by the
inspection of intraclass correlation coefficients for the Big Five
(T1, T2, and T3) and relationship measures (i.e., number of sup-
port relationships at T1, numbers of lost and gained relationships).
The majority of coefficients were small to negligible (Hox, 2010),
which points to the irrelevance of country-level differences with
respect to the sojourners’ trait constellations.
Social relationship data was provided by N569 control
students and N487 sojourners. MCAR test including age, sex,
and initial Big Five trait levels were not significant,
(6) 9.11,
p.168, and thus the necessary conditions for using FIML
procedures to deal with the missing data were approved (Schafer &
Graham, 2002).
Big Five trait measures. The German version of the Big Five
Inventory (BFI; Lang et al., 2001) was employed at all three
measurement occasions to assess personality traits. The 42 items
were rated on 5-point scales (1 strongly disagree,5strongly
agree). Coefficient alpha reliabilities at the three measurement
occasions were .83, .83, and .84 for Openness; .83, .83, and .83 for
Conscientiousness; .88, .89, and .90 for Extraversion; .73, .72, and
.74 for Agreeableness; and .82, .84, and .84 for Neuroticism,
Social relationship measures. We developed a research de-
sign that allowed for the precise quantification of support relation-
ship gains and losses. These requirements were met by the utili-
zation of a personal network approach (Milardo, 1992) with three
different name eliciting questions, referred to in the literature as
name generators (Burt, 1984;Campbell & Lee, 1991). Short
characteristic descriptions of support needs with respect to either
emotional, instrumental, or companionship matters (Thibaut &
Kelley, 1959) were used to direct the naming of each and every
relevant support relationship (van der Poel, 1993).
The three name eliciting questions were presented on three
successive pages of the online questionnaire, with relationship
entries being automatically transmitted from one page to the fol-
lowing. Thus, all relationships named in reply to former questions
were listed at the top of the subsequent page and could be reused
as answers to the present question by clicking. This design feature
was implemented to prevent the same relationship partner’s re-
peated denomination with different spellings or name references
(e.g., Maximillian M. or Max M.), which would prevent clear
identification and thus distort the relationship data (Fung, Yeung,
Li, & Lang, 2009). Participants were required to identify their
support relationships with full first names, surnames’ initials, age,
sex, and role relationship to guarantee unambiguous recognition on
the next occasion of data collection. Once participants had worked
through all three name generating questions, they were presented
with the full list of their support relationships along with the
request to check for possible unintentional repetitions, missing
information or misspellings and edit their entries if necessary.
Once the lists were shown to be unambiguous and valid, they were
stored online and saved as recognition stimuli for the next wave of
data collection. In the next step, participants moved on to the
interpreters’ section (Burt, 1984;Campbell & Lee, 1991), where
the relationship list was used to gather further qualifying informa-
tion on the respective relationship partners’ nationalities.
As a feature of the recognition design we used (Marsden, 1990;
Neyer, 1997;Sudman, 1985), all subsequent waves of relationship
data collection endorsed the same name eliciting questions. How-
ever, from the second data collection on, participants were no
longer required to start their listings from scratch, but were pre-
sented with the complete support relationship list of the previous
measurement occasion as an aide memoire and point of reference.
A new use of former entries was achieved by clicking on the
respective name to activate it as a response to the currently
presented generator. In this way, we were able to keep track of
each and every formerly named relationship and to confirm
whether it was still relevant. At the same time, participants still had
the possibility to add any new contacts to the established support
relationship list.
Showing consistency across groups and assessment intervals,
the largest proportion of all three groups’ supportive relationships
were made up of non-family relationships, including such relation-
ship categories as “friend,” “acquaintance,” “fellow student,” and
“colleague”; that is, averaged across all three measurement occa-
sions, the amount of peer relationships was 68% for short-term
sojourners, 70% for long-term sojourners, and 71% for control
students. In contrast, averages of only 22% of short-term sojourn-
ers’, 21% of long-term sojourners’, and 23% of control students’
support relationships belonged to the family (e.g., “parent,”
“grand-parent,” “[step]brother/[step]sister,” “aunt/uncle,” or
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“cousin”). The remaining percentages comprised relationships
classified as “romantic partner,” which refer to 5% in short-term
sojourners’, 4% in long-term sojourners’, and 6% in control stu-
dents’ networks. This pattern of network composition validates our
network generating procedure, as we intended to map broader
social support networks rather than networks of close relationships
restricted to family members and romantic partners.
Finally, we summarized the data on relationship fluctuation. We
distinguished between national relationships (i.e., all relationship
partners with German nationality) and international relationships
(i.e., all relationship partners who hold any but German citizen-
ship). Furthermore, we coded relationship losses and gains. In this
manner, we ended up with a total of four different relationship
indices that reflected the numbers of lost national relationships,
lost international relationships, gained national relationships, and
gained international relationships. These indices served as media-
tors in the latent change mediation models described below. In the
present case, the use of manifest aggregation (i.e., count scores)
seemed more appropriate than latent aggregation procedures as
individual fluctuation rates were assumed to represent formative
rather than reflective measures (Marsh et al., 2009).
Analytical Strategy
To get the most reliable personality estimates, we modeled the
personality factors as latent constructs to control for measurement
errors at the indicator level (Bollen & Curran, 2006). However,
instead of directly implementing all 42 BFI items as manifest
indicators in the latent models, we used two parcels per factor
(Bandalos & Finney, 2001;Little, Cunningham, Shahar, & Wida-
man, 2002; cf. Allemand, Zimprich, & Hertzog, 2007), which
reflected the means of several single items. To derive equally
balanced parcels in terms of their difficulty and discrimination, we
used the item-to-construct method (Little et al., 2002) to assign the
items to the respective parcels. All latent analyses were carried out
using Mplus Version 6 (Muthén & Muthén, 1998–2010).
Selection effects. To assess self-selection effects, we imple-
mented multivariate probit regressions with the Big Five person-
ality factors as latent predictors and the sojourn status as dependent
dummy coded variables (0 control group, 1 sojourner). To
illustrate differences between univariate and multivariate designs,
we subsequently performed univariate analyses for all Big Five
personality traits, and a multivariate model considering all traits
simultaneously. Age and gender were controlled in all analyses.
We used Bayesian estimators as they have been proven to outper-
form the commonly implemented WLSMV estimators in structural
equation models with categorical outcome variables in many in-
cidences (Asparouhov & Muthén, 2010).
Socialization effects and mediation analyses. To assess ini-
tial levels and to measure changes in the latent personality con-
structs over time, we used latent change models (McArdle, 1988;
McArdle & Nesselroade, 1994;Steyer, Eid, & Schwenkmezger,
1997;Steyer, Partchev, & Shanahan, 2000), which are also fre-
quently referred to as true change models (Geiser, 2010). In these
models, latent change variables are used to represent the change
between two measurement occasions which is uncontaminated by
random measurement error. More precisely, time specific latent
factors that represent a construct at each time point are defined.
The crucial idea is that the latent measure for the second time point
can be decomposed into the initial intercept, and a latent change
factor representing growth or decline from one time point to the
other (Reuter et al., 2010;Steyer et al., 1997,2000). The variance
of the latent change factor points to interindividual differences in
change. To confirm the reliability of change, it is crucial to ensure
that changes are not due to modifications in the relation between
manifest indicators and their latent counterparts (Bollen & Curran,
2006;Horn & McArdle, 1992;Vandenberg & Lance, 2000). Thus
so, the specified models implied strict factorial invariance by
constraining factor loadings, measurement intercepts, and error
variances to be equal across time (Meredith, 1993). We allowed
for correlations between residuals of the same indicators across
time to account for residual effects that cannot be ascribed to the
latent factors under study (Brown, 2006;Marsh & Hau, 1996). If
strict factorial invariance is established, changes in average indi-
cator scores unequivocally reflect changes in the latent variables
(Geiser, 2010;Lüdtke et al., 2011).
A further advantage of latent change models is their flexible
extensibility, due to the fact that the latent change variables can
serve as both endogenous and exogenous variables that can be
related to other constructs (Steyer et al., 2000). In the present
study, we took advantage of these possibilities with respect to three
analytical features. First, we estimated all latent change models as
multivariate models (Reuter et al., 2010;Steyer et al., 2000), which
simultaneously endorsed all five personality traits. In the context
of the present study, this was particularly important as only the
simultaneous incorporation of all initial trait levels allowed for a
differentiation between selection and socialization effects since
initial trait level differences (selection effects) were controlled.
Importantly, the five latent change variables were restricted so as
not to correlate with each other.
Second, treating latent change factors as endogenous variables
enabled us to assess the extent to which their variances were
explained by sojourn effects. To perform these analyses, the un-
correlated change variables were regressed on dummy variables
that indicated the participants’ sojourn status. We analyzed change
patterns in two distinct but analogous models with respect to two
measurement intervals: the first five months interval (T1–T2) and
the full observation period of an academic year (T1–T3). Given the
multivariate control of selection effects, significant effects of so-
journ status on trait change variables can be interpreted as social-
ization effects above and beyond the impact of initial trait con-
Third, in order to assess the mechanisms that account for the
sojourn effects on personality change, we also extended the latent
change models by incorporating relationship fluctuation indices as
mediators into the models and tested for the significance of these
mediation effects (see Figure 1). The outcome variables and me-
diators were controlled for age, gender, initial trait constellations,
and the respective numbers of national and international support
relationships at T1. To account for non-normality of item distri-
butions, we estimated all latent change models using the Satorra–
Bentler method for model estimations. This approach provides
maximum likelihood parameter estimates and a mean-adjusted
chi-square, which are robust to violations of normality (Muthén &
Muthén, 2004). Missing values in the relationship indices were
treated using the FIML procedure as implemented in Mplus Ver-
sion 6 (Muthén & Muthén, 1998–2010).
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To begin, we present results on self-selection, and then turn to
the results of multivariate latent change models to seize socializa-
tion effects. Here, we first investigated direct sojourn effects on
personality trait change across T1–T2 and T1–T3 in two separate
models (path c, Figure 1). Next, we extended each of these two
latent change models by including indices of relationship fluctu-
ation as mediators. We present the results from these two latent
change mediation models in three steps. First, we report on sojourn
effects on relationship fluctuation (path a, Figure 1). Secondly, we
show the effects of relationship fluctuation on personality trait
change (path b, Figure 1). And thirdly, we illustrate how relation-
ship fluctuations mediated the socialization effects. Please note,
that the three related paths (i.e., path a, path b, and path c=) are
modeled within one latent change mediation model. For reasons of
comprehensibility, we present findings path by path.
Self-Selection Hypothesis: Personality Traits as
Predictors of International Mobility
Self-selection effects were examined separately for short-term
and long-term sojourners using probit regression analyses as de-
scribed above. The inspection of univariate and multivariate probit
coefficients revealed substantial differences between both forms of
analyses (see Table 1). In the univariate analyses for short-term
sojourners, all Big Five traits were identified as predictors of
sojourning; similarly, all the traits apart from Agreeableness pre-
dicted long-term sojourning. In contrast, the multivariate models
showed a different pattern. While Extraversion was consistently
classified as a positive predictor for short-term (␤⫽.23, p.002)
and long-term (␤⫽.26, p.000) sojourning above and beyond
the impact of all other traits, higher initial Conscientiousness
predicted short-term (␤⫽.38, p.001) and higher Openness
long-term sojourning (␤⫽.24, p.003). Proportions of ex-
plained variance were R
.12, p.000, in the multivariate
analyses of short-term sojourners, and R
.09, p.000, in the
multivariate analyses of long-term sojourners. Direct sojourn
group comparisons substantiated the group differences between
self-selection effects.
Socialization Hypothesis: Direct Sojourn Effects on
Personality Trait Change
We first specified two multivariate latent change models refer-
ring to the two measurement intervals of one academic term
(T1–T2) and the full academic year (T1–T3). In each model, we
regressed the five uncorrelated latent trait change variables on
dummy-coded sojourn status variables to distinguish between ef-
fects for control students, short-term, and long-term sojourners.
Both models obtained a good fit to the data, with comparative fit
indexes (CFIs) .95, root-mean-square error of approximations
(RMSEAs) .07, and standardized root-mean-square residuals
(SRMRs) .06. As can be seen in the first two columns of Table
2, the first model revealed a comparable pattern of results for
T1–T2 across both sojourning groups. Although some of the
effects were only substantiated as a tendency, effect comparisons
using Cohen’s ds suggested genuine sojourn effects on develop-
mental trajectories of Openness (d
0.23, d
Agreeableness (d
0.10, d
0.13), and Neuroticism
⫽⫺0.13, d
⫽⫺0.16). Indeed, a Wald test confirmed
that there were no significant differences between socialization
Sojourn Status
Trait T1
P21 P1n
Trait Tn
Latent Change
T1 - Tn
c (c΄)
Figure 1. Conceptual model to assess processes of trait change in the
context of international mobility experiences. Fluctuation indices (national
relationship loss, international relationship loss, national relationship gain,
international relationship gain) were assessed as mediators of sojourn
effects on uncorrelated latent trait change variables. For reasons of parsi-
mony and comprehensiveness, this illustration is restricted to exemplary
univariate latent trait and change variables.
Table 1
Personality and Self-Selection: Prediction of Sojourn Status
Personality trait
Big Five T1 Univariate analyses Multivariate analyses
Short-term Long-term Controls Short-term Long-term Short-term Long-term
Openness 3.78 0.56 3.84 0.55 3.67 0.61 .17 .022 .35 .000 .03 .353 .24 .003
Conscientiousness 3.82 0.43 3.70 0.45 3.66 0.52 .50 .000 .16 .035 .38 .001 .07 .246
Extraversion 3.58 0.70 3.58 0.69 3.29 0.71 .35 .000 .34 .000 .23 .002 .26 .000
Agreeableness 3.50 0.43 3.45 0.48 3.39 0.56 .26 .004 .11 .138 .06 .306 .05 .340
Neuroticism 2.73 0.71 2.82 0.75 2.96 0.70 .44 .000 .24 .001 .14 .060 .04 .294
Note. T1 Time 1; Short-term short-term sojourners; Long-term long-term sojourners; Controls control students.
Unstandardized probit coefficients.
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patterns of short-term and long-term sojourners,
(5) 6.43, p
In order to reduce model complexity, we repeated the
analysis with the pooled sojourner sample (the third column in
Table 2). The socialization pattern for the pooled sample across
T1–T2 substantiated the sojourn effects on personality change in
the domains of Openness, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
The same pattern of results was identified in the second model
addressing socialization effects across T1–T3 (fourth column in
Table 2). We compared the effect sizes (Cohen’s ds) obtained for
the long-term sojourners across T1–T2 and T1–T3 to evaluate how
the duration of stay affected socialization patterns. Effect sizes for
Openness (d
0.12, d
0.14) and Agreeableness (d
0.18) were comparable across both intervals, indicating that
sojourn effects on Openness and Agreeableness development were
relatively independent of the time spent abroad. A considerable
increase in effects on Neuroticism (d
⫽⫺0.16, d
suggests that the sojourn duration played an influencing role for
this domain.
Figure 2 summarizes the results by exemplarily illustrating the
multivariate selection and socialization effects obtained for the
long-term sojourners for the full measurement period (T1–T3). As
can be seen, the sojourn effect on Openness change translates in
differential developmental trends for sojourners and control stu-
dents. While the sojourners’ change patterns are characterized by
an increasing tendency, the contrary trend is observed in the
control group. With respect to Agreeableness, the sojourn effect on
trait change is shown by sojourners’ more pronounced increases.
The impact of international mobility on Neuroticism change is
consistently demonstrated by the sojourners’ steeper Neuroticism
decline. It is worth noting that sojourning did not directly relate to
changes in Conscientiousness and Extraversion in any of the
models, hence there are no significant differences between so-
journers and controls with respect to the change patterns of these
Mediation Hypothesis: Relationship Fluctuation as
Mechanism of Personality Development
In the next step, we extended the two latent change models
(T1–T2, T1–T3) for mediation analyses by including fluctuation
indices of national and international relationship losses and gains
as mediators to explain sojourn effects on trait change (see Figure
1). For the T1–T2 interval, we started with a model that distin-
guished between the indirect paths for the short-term and long-
term sojourners. As the pattern of results was comparable for
short-term and long-term sojourners, we next tested a model with
all indirect paths set equal across both sojourn groups. As the result
of a Wald test confirming that there were no significant differences
between the indirect paths of short-term and long-term sojourners,
(20) 2.82, p1.000,
we pooled the indirect paths for the
two sojourn groups.
Sojourn effects on relationship fluctuation (a paths). To
begin, we introduce descriptive findings to illustrate the dynamic
pattern of change in support relationships (see Table 3). The first
three columns show the total numbers of relationships reported at
each measurement occasion and the numbers of lost and gained
relationships across T1–T2 and T1–T3, respectively. At each mea-
surement occasion, participants of both sojourn groups reported
comparable numbers of relationship partners which were greater
than those reported by control students. In addition, short-term and
long-term sojourners reported more relationship losses and gains
compared to the control students. All in all, the pattern of rela-
tionship fluctuation was comparable between both sojourner
groups, though long-term sojourners tended to lose more support-
ive relationships than the short-term sojourners from T1 to T2.
The overall numbers of reported international support relation-
ships including gains and losses are also reported in Table 3, both
in numbers and percentages. Both sojourn groups were involved in
more international relationships at each measurement occasion,
and added about 10 times more international relationships than
control students. The composition of international relationships
was nominally the same in both sojourn groups; that is, around one
third of these relationship partners were host country natives, and
about two thirds were other international sojourners.
This descriptive pattern of relationship fluctuation was con-
firmed by the tests of a paths of the latent change mediation
models. For the T1–T2 interval, we observed substantial sojourn
effects on losses of both national (␤⫽2.02, p.000) and
international (␤⫽0.52, p.022) relationships, as well sojourn
effects on international relationship gains (␤⫽2.46, p.000).
This indicates that sojourners lost more national and international
relationships, while at the same time gaining many more new
We additionally computed separate Wald tests for each socialization
effect but did not substantiate significant differences between short-term
and long-term sojourners.
We additionally computed Wald tests for path-by-path comparisons of
indirect effects but did not substantiate significant differences between
short-term and long-term sojourners.
Table 2
Sojourn Effects on Trait Change: Socialization Patterns
Personality trait
Model for T1–T2 Model for T1–T3
Short-term sojourners Long-term sojourners All sojourners Long-term sojourners
Coefficient pCoefficient pCoefficient pCoefficient p
Change Openness .08 .002 .04 .067 .06 .004 .05 .039
Change Conscientiousness .02 .337 .00 .863 .01 .723 .00 .906
Change Extraversion .04 .263 .03 .354 .00 .993 .05 .104
Change Agreeableness .04 .187 .05 .049 .04 .042 .07 .009
Change Neuroticism .06 .087 .08 .018 .07 .013 .13 .000
Note. Coefficients are the unstandardized effects of sojourn status on trait change (i.e., c paths in Figure 1). T1–T3 Time 1–Time 3.
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Figure 2. Multivariate self-selection and socialization effects for control students and long-term sojourners
(T1–T3). To illustrate multivariate selection effects, standardized probit coefficients derived from the multivar-
iate self-selection analyses were used to illustrate intercept differences between control students and long-term
sojourners. Coefficients for both groups’ Big Five trait change over time—that is, socialization effects—were
deferred from the latent change model and, for illustrative purposes, were standardized relative to the first
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international relationships than control students during the same
time interval.
Regarding the T1–T3 interval, effects of long-term sojourning
on relationship fluctuation were shown to be significant with
respect to national relationships losses (␤⫽2.15, p.000) and
international relationship gains (␤⫽2.91, p.000). Therefore it
can be seen that long-term sojourning led to both higher rates of
national relationship losses and international relationship gains.
Importantly, all these effects were independent of initial network
constellations as the respective numbers of national and interna-
tional relationships at the first measurement occasion were con-
Effects of relationship fluctuation on Big Five trait change (b
paths). Table 4 summarizes the results of the b paths for the
latent change mediation models. As the direct effects of sojourn
status were controlled (c=paths), the coefficients reflect the effects
of relationship fluctuation on trait change above and beyond any
sojourn effects.
Notably, all relationship effects on trait change across both
T1–T2 and T1–T3 referred to relationship gains. With the excep-
tion of a negative effect of national relationship gains on Agree-
ableness change which only manifested across T1–T3, all relation-
ship effects on trait change variables were replicated across both
measurement intervals. Both gains of national and international
contacts affected Openness change. By contrast, only international
relationship gains had substantial impact on change in Neuroticism
and Extraversion.
Relationship fluctuations as mechanisms of trait change.
We completed the mediation analyses by examining the signifi-
cance of the total indirect effects, and their power to explain the
socialization effects that had been substantiated for Openness,
Neuroticism, and Agreeableness. With respect to Openness, only
the indirect effect of international relationship gains was signifi-
cant for T1–T2 (
.04, p.000;
.00, p
.380) and T1–T3 (
.05, p.008;
p.126). In both cases, the direct sojourn effect on Openness
change was no longer sustained (c=
.02, p.343; c=
p.921). The indirect effect explained about 65% (T1–T2) and
94% (T1–T3) of the direct effect’s variance.
Regarding Neuroticism, only the indirect effect of international
relationship gains was significant for both T1–T2 (
–.05, p.002;
.00, p.527) and T1–T3 (
–.05, p.028;
.00, p.650). The direct sojourn
effects on Neuroticism became insignificant once mediation terms
Table 3
Amounts of Support Relationships and Support Relationship Fluctuation
No. of relationships
All relationships International relationships
Short-term Long-term Controls Short-term Long-term Controls
Short-term % Long-term % Controls %M(SD)M(SD)M(SD)M(SD)M(SD)M(SD)
T1 11.9 (5.3) 12.2 (5.9) 10.6 (5.4) 0.6 (1.2) 0.7 (1.3) 0.2 (0.8) 5.0 5.7 1.9
T2 11.4 (5.3) 11.2 (6.1) 9.7 (5.3) 2.9 (2.8) 3.3 (3.5) 0.3 (0.9) 25.4 29.5 3.1
T3 10.8 (5.7) 9.4 (4.9) 3.5 (3.3) 0.2 (0.8) 32.4 2.1
Lost relationships
T1–T2 5.4 (4.6) 6.3 (5.1) 3.1 (3.3) 0.3 (0.6) 0.4 (0.8) 0.1 (0.4) 5.6 6.3 3.2
T1–T3 6.9 (5.3) 3.7 (3.6) 0.4 (0.9) 0.1 (0.5) 5.8 2.7
Gained relationships
T1–T2 4.8 (3.4) 5.2 (4.1) 2.1 (2.7) 2.6 (2.7) 2.9 (3.4) 0.1 (0.6) 54.2 55.8 4.8
T1–T3 5.5 (3.9) 2.4 (2.6) 3.2 (3.2) 0.1 (0.5) 58.2 4.2
Note. The numbers of national relationships (reported, lost, gained) result from the differences between all and international relationships plus small
amounts of unclassified relationships (maximum 5.8%). Short-term short-term sojourners; Long-term long-term sojourners; Controls control
students; T1–T3 Time 1–Time 3.
Table 4
Effects of Relationship Fluctuation on Big Five Trait Change for Both Measurement Intervals
Predictors of
personality change
Change O Change C Change E Change A Change N
Coefficient pCoefficient pCoefficient pCoefficient pCoefficient p
National relationship loss .00 .782 .00 .744 .00 .685 .00 .611 .00 .973
International relationship loss .05 .050 .02 .401 .05 .206 .01 .873 .06 .175
National relationship gain .02 .002 .01 .091 .00 .525 .01 .167 .01 .366
International relationship gain .02 .000 .01 .182 .02 .000 .01 .281 .02 .002
National relationship loss .00 .534 .00 .348 .01 .253 .01 .069 .00 .839
International relationship loss .03 .255 .00 .869 .06 .070 .02 .406 .01 .851
National relationship gain .01 .011 .01 .075 .01 .082 .01 .032 .00 .637
International relationship gain .02 .007 .01 .184 .02 .015 .01 .062 .02 .025
Note. Coefficients are the unstandardized b paths from latent change mediation models. T1–T3 Time 1–Time 3.
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were included (c=
–.03, p.382; c=
–.07, p.068),
which accounted for 69% (T1–T2) and 39% (T1–T3) of the direct
For Agreeableness, none of the indirect effects were significant
for T1–T2 (
.02, p.275;
–.00, p
.451) or T1–T3 (
.03, p.059;
.00, p
.169). As the insignificance of b paths had already indicated (see
Table 4), there were no substantial effects for relationship losses,
imputing that overall relationship losses did not account for any
sojourn effects on trait change.
To sum up, these results illustrate that both the sojourn effect on
change in Openness and Neuroticism can be explained in terms of
sojourners’ more extensive international relationship gains.
The aim of the present study was to investigate self-selection
and socialization processes in the context of international mobility
experiences, and to explore the mediating mechanisms that ac-
count for socialization effects. We based our classification of
international mobility as a life event with the potential to influence
personality development on two grounds: first, its increasing im-
portance in young adults’ lives, and, second, the idea that sojourn-
ing compares to other life events in facilitating relationship dy-
namics as a social framework for personality development (Caspi,
2000;Lang, Reschke, & Neyer, 2006;Roberts & Wood, 2006).
The pattern of self-selection and socialization effects speaks no-
tably in favor of international mobility’s classification as a life
event that catalyzes personality development (Roberts et al., 2005).
Furthermore, the establishment of relationship gains as a mecha-
nism that accounts in large parts for the sojourn effects on per-
sonality development validated our assumption of a strong theo-
retical explanation for personality change.
Self-Selection: Personality Traits as Predictors of
International Mobility
As expected, we observed substantial self-selection effects in
both univariate and multivariate analyses. However, there were
substantial differences between the two analyses strategies. While
univariate analyses revealed all Big Five traits as determinants of
short-term sojourning, and all traits but Agreeableness as being
predictors of long-term stays abroad, multivariate analyses re-
stricted the pattern to substantial effects for Extraversion (short-
term and long-term sojourning), Openness (long-term sojourning),
and Conscientiousness (short-term sojourning). While higher lev-
els of Extraversion and Openness had already been related to both
intra- and international mobility experiences in recent studies
(Camperio Ciani, Capiluppi, Veronese, & Sartori, 2007;Jokela,
2009;Jokela et al., 2008;Lüdtke et al., 2011;Silventoinen et al.,
2008), the effect of Conscientiousness on sojourning was unex-
pected. Additionally, the Openness effect was substantiated for
long-term sojourners only and did not generalize across both study
abroad schemes.
Our conclusions on self-selection are threefold. First, the diver-
gent pattern of univariate and multivariate results demonstrates the
pitfalls of univariate self-selection analyses, as these are likely to
suggest extensive selection effects that are, on closer (multivariate)
inspection, carried by traits’ covariances, while lacking unique
predictive value. Second, with the impact of the Big Five traits on
young adults’ international mobility engagement, we comple-
mented the existing knowledge on the relevance of traits with
respect to life events in general, and provided insights into the
psychological prerequisites that foster one of the most important
forms of current geographical mobility (King & Ruiz-Gelices,
2003). Third, the fact that self-selection effects differed between
short-term and long-term sojourns suggests that these two study
abroad schemes represent different points of focus. The engage-
ment in short-term sojourns may rather reflect an aspiration to
accumulate career relevant experiences that are valued by many
employees (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung,
2009), which would explain the unexpected Conscientiousness
effect. In contrast, long-term sojourns may rather respond to a
desire for more extensive experiences with a foreign culture, which
is reflected in the Openness effect. However, few studies have
investigated the motives and the goals that are pursued by students
when they decide to spend some of their academic education
abroad, which prompts the presented findings toward interesting
perspectives for future research. These differences in self-selection
notwithstanding, it is all the more noteworthy that the patterns of
socialization were indeed comparable between short-term and
long-term sojourners.
Socialization: Direct Sojourn Effects on Personality
Trait Change
Latent change analyses on trait socialization confirmed a coher-
ent pattern of substantial differences between sojourners and con-
trol students with respect to change in Agreeableness, Neuroti-
cism, and Openness. Notably, the overall socialization pattern was
consistently identified for both short-term and long-term sojourn-
ers, which highlights that sojourn effects on personality develop-
ment were independent of the intended time to stay abroad,
whether the experience was for one semester or for a full year.
In particular, sojourners exhibited an accentuated increase of
Agreeableness and a steeper decline of Neuroticism. Against the
background of the mean-level trends toward higher Agreeableness
and Emotional Stability across the life span (Lucas & Donellan,
2011;Roberts et al., 2006;Roberts & Wood, 2006;Robins et al.,
2001;Specht et al., 2011), these socialization patterns corroborate
the conceptualization of international mobility experiences as a life
event that expedites personality maturation in young adulthood.
As only few previous studies have revealed substantial contin-
gencies between life experiences and Openness trajectories (Asen-
dorpf & Wilpers, 1998;Neyer & Asendorpf, 2001), we regard the
identified sojourn effect on Openness change as an important
achievement. If we consider both socialization and self-selection
effects obtained for that domain, the claim of the Corresponsive
Principle that “the most likely effect of life experience on person-
ality development is to deepen the characteristics that lead people
to those experiences” (Roberts et al., 2003, p. 583) would seem to
be validated for the case of long-term sojourning. In this regard,
the present study extended the Corresponsive Principle to fields
other than professional experiences.
Other than the socialization effects observed for Openness and
Agreeableness, the sojourn effect on Neuroticism increased over
time. Several studies have shown that the first four to six months
abroad are frequently associated with adaptation hassles, which
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result in mood disturbances and poor psychological adaptation
when compared with pre-departure measures and subsequent dates
(Furukawa & Shibayama, 1993,1994;Ward et al., 1998). For
example, a longitudinal study by Andrews et al. (1993) tracked
trait vulnerability of adolescent sojourners and control students
over the course of one school year. Their results indicated a
non-linear decline of trait vulnerability scores which the authors
ascribed to the interference of acculturation stressors and trait
maturation processes during the first six months. In other words,
the temporal coincidence of acculturation stress and sojourn ef-
fects on vulnerability change obscured the trait effects during these
initial sojourn stages. Similar processes might apply to our sample
and explain the increased Neuroticism effect for T1–T3.
We did not observe any socialization effects for Conscientious-
ness and Extraversion. While recent findings have corroborated the
idea that sojourn experiences are unrelated to Conscientiousness
change (Lüdtke et al., 2011), the Corresponsive Principle would
suggest that sojourning has an effect on Extraversion. Earlier
studies indicated that developmental patterns of Extraversion
strongly depend upon the facet under study, and that antagonistic
tendencies of different facets might neutralize each other at trait
level (Roberts et al., 2006). However, one can only speculate
concerning such effects when considering the present study.
Nevertheless, the observed socialization processes genuinely
validated international sojourns as a life event which catalyzes
personality maturation. The replication of socialization effects on
Openness, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism across different so-
journ groups and time intervals provided a strong case for the
validity of the results.
Relationship Fluctuations as Mechanism of
Personality Development
Both control and sojourner students reported having consider-
able numbers of concrete relationships; people who responded to
their needs for emotional support, instrumental support, and com-
panionship. These numbers, ranging from about 10 to 12 support
relationships, were thoroughly in line with earlier findings on
personal support networks of young adults (Wrzus, Hänel, Wag-
ner, & Neyer, 2013) and sojourners (Domínguez & Maya-Jariego,
2008). With respect to relationship fluctuation over time, we
identified the expected accentuation in the social network dynam-
ics of sojourners that was most apparent in their more than tenfold
increased international relationship gains. Importantly, the aim of
the present study was not to compare the general effects of national
and international relationship fluctuation. We rather aspired to
precisely describe the particular pattern of relationship fluctuation
that occurs in the context of international sojourns, and investigate
its role in socialization processes.
Latent change mediation models revealed international relation-
ship gains as a powerful mediator to explain sojourn effects on
Openness change. This finding agrees with the assumption of the
culture learning framework, that international sojourns facilitate
behavior change by intercultural relationship experiences which
offer first-hand experiences of cultural differences (Furnham &
Bochner, 1982;Ward & Kennedy, 1993). That way, the cultural
learning framework corresponds with the Sociogenomic Model,
which would assume that such relationship experiences result in
concrete behavior changes, which, in turn, promote trait develop-
ment by bottom-up processes (Roberts & Jackson, 2008).
In line with our expectations, the quantity of new support
relationships with international partners also provided a powerful
explanatory link for sojourn effects on decline in Neuroticism. As
mentioned above, earlier studies suggested that the successful
handling of acculturative stressors may set in motion declines in
trait anxiety (Andrews et al., 1993). In addition, several studies
characterized the successful handling of multicultural social en-
counters as a major challenge of international sojourns (Eshel &
Rosenthal-Sokolov, 2000;Gong & Fan, 2006;Ward & Kennedy,
1999). The successful integration of international relationships can
therefore be considered to be an important step in mastering
acculturation challenges, leading to reduced stress and anxiety,
which finally translates into change in Neuroticism.
Further research is needed to understand sojourn effects on
Agreeableness change. None of the assessed indirect effects were
significant; however, the indirect effect via international relation-
ship gains appeared as a tendency across T1–T3. We can only
speculate that change in Agreeableness was related to other social
experiences not captured by the mechanism of relationship fluc-
tuation. For example, it was empirically shown that continuous
experiences of specific relationship qualities, such as closeness or
security, are associated with personality change (Neyer & Lehnart,
2007;Parker, Lüdtke, Trautwein, & Roberts, 2012;Sturaro et al.,
2008). Agreeableness may rather be sensitive to such qualitative
relationship changes during sojourn experiences.
It is worth remarking that mediation analyses did not substan-
tiate any effects for lost support relationships. The reason may be
that lost relationships are of minor importance to the individual
person. Given the advanced communication and travel facilities in
today’s world, it seems unlikely that social relationships are bro-
ken up for no reason other than increased geographical distances.
Hence, relationship losses may rather pertain to the least relevant
social relationships, where termination does not profoundly affect
individuals, and therefore has minor consequences with respect to
personality development.
Limitations and Future Directions
This study has limitations. First, as in most non-experimental
research, it cannot be precluded that other unknown variables
account for the observed effects. However, we contend that, with
the implementation of a prospective control group design, we were
able to control for trait-determined self-selection effects in our
analyses of trait development. We believe that this approach sup-
ports our interpretation of the socialization effects obtained.
Second, the sustainability of observed developmental tendencies
cannot be assessed with the available data, as they pertain only to
the limited observation period of one academic year and do not
allow for the extrapolation of trait development after return to the
home country.
However, the Cumulative Continuity Principle (Roberts et al.,
2008) underlines the importance of intermediate changes in trait
development, as they were observed in the present study. Such
intermediate changes characterize the flux and flow of self-
selection and socialization processes as the most crucial mecha-
nism behind the cumulative pattern of personality development
over the life course. George, Helson, and John (2011), for exam-
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This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
ple, showed that the effects of professional experience on trait
development may accumulate over several decades.
With respect to the particular case of international sojourning,
the clear delineation of sustainable sojourn effects is particularly
challenging, given that the experience of moving and living abroad
is closely linked to another event, the return to the country of
origin. There is broad agreement that the return to the country of
origin constitutes a challenging life event on its own that should
not be confounded with the preceding experiences of departure and
living abroad (Martin, 1986;Rogers & Ward, 1993). Such effects
were beyond the scope of the present study. A research design that
is powerful enough to disentangle the effects of sojourn and return
would require an observation period of at least three years, includ-
ing fine-grained measurement occasions timed with reference to
individual dates of return. We consider this to be an interesting
challenge for future research.
Third, the sample in our study has two limitations. On the one
hand, most sojourners moved to European destinations, thus lim-
iting the ability to generalize the observed selection and socializa-
tion effects. We cannot rule out that moving to non-European
destinations may be associated with different selection and social-
ization patterns. On the other hand, we concentrated on the very
particular case of international student mobility, and as such, the
question of whether or not our conclusions can be generalized into
other groups subjected to inter- and intra-national mobility chal-
lenges remains open. Validating our results by studying interna-
tional mobility experiences in foreign environments of variant
cultural distances (Suanet & Van De Vijver, 2009;Ward & Chang,
1997;Ward, Leong, & Low, 2004) makes an appealing objective
for future research.
Fourth, despite the successful approval of the Corresponsive
Principle with respect to the coherent selection and socialization
patterns in the trait domain of Openness, further trait domains miss
corresponsive result patterns. However, it is important to bear in
mind that we applied multivariate self-selection analyses, and thus
implemented stricter tests of corresponsive patterns than previous
studies, which may explain the discrepancy between favorable
findings on the Corresponsive Principle (e.g., Roberts et al., 2003)
and our results.
Finally, the theoretical and empirical substantiation of idiosyn-
cratic trait change in response to rather non-normative life expe-
riences, like international mobility, merits further consideration.
With respect to normative age-graded life transitions, trait changes
are assumed to be driven by unique reward contingencies bound to
normatively defined social roles (Roberts & Wood, 2006). How-
ever, as non-normative events are less likely to be furnished with
predefined normative expectations, they allow for more flexible
individual accomplishments. The pattern of trait changes may then
depend more on the concrete social environment, such as the
context-specific rewards that are communicated in social relation-
ships, in the form of behavior feedback or role models for exam-
ple. Further research is required however, to clarify the concrete
mechanisms that occur during social interactions with (new) rela-
tionship partners in order to thoroughly unravel how the new
relationships work upon individuals.
To conclude, with the present study we showed that hitting the
road has substantial effects on who we are. The difference is made
by the international people we meet on that road and with whom
we form new relationships. We hope that future research will
continue to explore this road of personality–relationship transac-
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Received July 17, 2012
Revision received February 26, 2013
Accepted April 16, 2013
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... Mobile students tend to be of higher social origin than non-mobile students (King et al., 2010;d'Hombres and Schnepf, 2021) and have better grades from upper secondary school (d 'Hombres and Schnepf, 2021). There are also indications that ISM students diverge from other students regarding personality (Zimmermann and Neyer, 2013) and motivation (Hovdhaugen et al., 2021). However, the relation between such features and labour market outcomes are rarely investigated. ...
... The validity of this particular statement and the stability of personality in general have been subjects for ongoing academic debates. Nonetheless, despite the evidently enduring nature of personality traits, most researchers today agree that young adulthood, the typical life phase for higher education, represents a highly dynamic period of personality development (Bleidorn et al., 2018;Zimmermann and Neyer, 2013). Major life events, such as unemployment, marriage and parenthood, are among the numerous possible accounts for personality developments because they can redirect or modify life trajectories and as such alter a person's thoughts and behaviours 4 ...
... Research in Comparative & International Education 0(0) (Denissen et al., 2019). International student mobility is believed to be one such formative life event with the potential of changing personality traits (Zimmermann and Neyer, 2013). To our knowledge, there are to date at best few studies investigating the role of personality traits in explaining the relationships between ISM and labour market returns (Zimmermann and Neyer, 2013;Martinsen, 2010). ...
Full-text available
International student mobility (ISM) is often perceived to enhance career prospects. Surprisingly, the role of personality traits in explaining why students go abroad and relationships between ISM and labour market outcomes have received scant scholarly attention. Based on survey data from Norwegian graduates, we found that degree and credit mobility graduates were significantly more extraverted and open than non-mobile peers and that degree mobiles were more agreeable than both credit and non-mobiles. Furthermore, results revealed that whereas degree mobility is related to both wage and Occupational self-efficiacy (OSE), this was not the case for credit mobility. However, personality did affect the associations between degree mobility and labour market outcomes. In sum, our study suggests that the distinction between degree and credit mobility is important when considering the labour market outcomes of ISM and that personality does play a role in the links between degree mobility and labour market outcomes.
... They found that the students who did not have interest to study abroad scored lower on openness compared to all the other groups, while differences in extraversion and agreeableness were only found between some groups. In the last decade, there have been several longitudinal studies following German students and examining their personality differences prior and after their experience of studying abroad (Niehoff et al., 2017;Richter et al., 2021;Zimmermann and Neyer, 2013). For our study, it is interesting that all of those studies found significant personality differences between the students who studied abroad and those who did not study abroad and that the one personality trait that has been higher in all studies in students who studied abroad was openness. ...
... For our study, it is interesting that all of those studies found significant personality differences between the students who studied abroad and those who did not study abroad and that the one personality trait that has been higher in all studies in students who studied abroad was openness. In addition, longitudinal studies have shown that experience of studying abroad has an influence on personality change (Niehoff et al., 2017;Richter et al., 2021;Zimmermann and Neyer, 2013). All of the studies reviewed here have measured personality traits only on the factor level. ...
Purpose Higher education performance is boosted through cross-border cooperation and increased transnational mobility of students. In addition, exchange students have better employability skills after staying abroad compared to the students' peers. A number of studies have investigated factors that determine whether a student studies abroad. In this study, the authors focused on the role of personality trait openness to experience and cultural intelligence (CI) in explaining Croatian students' experience with and/or intention to travel abroad for studying purposes. Design/methodology/approach The authors analyzed results from 482 students ( M = 22.61, standard deviation (SD) = 2.24, 66% female), of whom 35% reported that they studied abroad or intended to study abroad. They filled in The Cultural Intelligence Scale and openness facets items from the International Personality Item Pool (IPIP-300) questionnaire. Findings The authors conducted a hierarchical binary logistic regression analysis and found that students who were younger, had higher adventurousness and higher motivational CI were more likely to study abroad. Results of the mediation analysis showed that the association between openness to experience facet adventurousness and intention to study abroad was partially mediated by the motivational aspect of CI. Originality/value This study contributes to the better understanding of complex interrelations between personality traits and CI in the context of higher education internationalization processes. This study offers unique insight into the mediating role CI has in the association between personality and mobility behavior.
... This poses a threat to internal validity because it is likely that SA and AH groups are not truly comparable. Differences that researchers find in learning gains between the groups may not result from the treatment (SA versus AH), but from differences between the groups' participants, for example, in socioeconomic class, their level of motivation and commitment to L2 and culture learning or in certain personality attributes, such as extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness (Zimmermann & Neyer, 2013). ...
... Comparing SA and AH students may not be necessary if researchers are primarily interested in the effects of SA as a unique learning environment that includes classroom instruction and out-of-class experiences and if researchers are willing to adopt repeated measures within-subjects designs. Focusing on the development of knowledge and skills within SA groups may be ecologically more valid than research that attempts to juxtapose and control groups of SA and AH participants that may be inherently different (compare Zimmermann & Neyer, 2013). In their meta-analysis of SA research, Tullock and Ortega (2017) pointed out that researchers have become less reliant on the dichotomous comparison of SA and AH learning and that it is (potentially) modulating variables that research should focus on. ...
This chapter explores quantitative research in second language study abroad (SA) contexts. It sketches out common research objectives, methods, and design options without attempting to take stock of all possible approaches to quantitative study abroad research (SAR). Instead, it raises seven issues that quantitative SAR is confronted with, explores how to tackle these, and makes recommendations for future studies. Three of the recommendations made concern the needs to (1) conduct multi-year studies to increase studies’ sample size and statistical power, (2) investigate interrelationships between SA participants’ performance in specific skills-tests and overall language proficiency tests, and (3) complement or replace self-report data through naturalistic observation of social and communicative behavior using tools like the Electronically Activated Recorder.
... Given the role that SE plays as a construct relevant to positive psychology and youth development (Shek et al., 2012;Tsang et al., 2012), intercultural effectiveness (e.g., Mendenhall et al., 2008) and related capability-based frameworks (e.g., MacNab and Worthley, 2012), further investigation into contributing factors among adolescents and emerging adults is warranted. Providing specificity matching could: (1) Help practitioners interpret skill-related sources of changes in global competence (e.g., selection and socialization effects from study abroad; Zimmermann and Neyer, 2013;Zimmermann et al., 2021); (2) frame the influence of personality on learning design choices (e.g., toward maximizing the potential of classroom contexts, such as high trait Extraversion in the performance of role plays; Karlin and Karlin, 2017); (3) clarify cultural heterogeneity in the dynamic relationship between sources of SE (e.g., socially conveyed sources of SE, Ahn et al., 2016) and anxiety (e.g., fear of failure); (4) allow researchers to adjust for the influence of personality as a source of trait variance in second language (L2)-related SE interventions (e.g., more precise measurement protocols in Sudina (2021), Irie (2022); communicative SE tools, Harris, 2022); and (5) offer clarity about the policy aims to promote "global competence" at both institutions of higher education and in professional development settings as endpoints. Answering this question would require data beyond ordinary university student populations at selected sites and instead examine a panel of geographically diverse individuals within the life stage of emerging adulthood. ...
Full-text available
Introduction Research on self–efficacy in intercultural communication (SEIC) provided validity evidence for second language (L2) self-efficacy domains. However, it lacked (1) an analysis of individual differences in personality as antecedents, (2) divergent validity from anxiety variables (i.e., foreign language classroom anxiety; FLCA), and (3) disambiguation from speaking (S-SE) and listening (L-SE) skill-specific self-efficacy types. Methods We conducted structural equation modeling of L2 self-efficacy and anxiety as response variables predicted by the Big Five model of personality in the context of Japanese undergraduate students at three university sites ( n = 373), and a geographically diverse online survey of emerging adults ( n = 1,326) throughout Japan. Results The final model for the nationally representative sample showed that SEIC was predicted by all identified personality factors. Differentially supported paths were observed linking L-SE with Conscientiousness (β = 0.24) and Extraversion (β = 0.16), and S-SE with Extraversion (β = 0.24) and Neuroticism (β = −0.12). The fear of failure factor of FLCA was predicted positively by Neuroticism (β = 0.25) and, surprisingly, Conscientiousness (β = 0.10), and negatively by Extraversion (β = −0.13). Relationships to Openness to Experience were only supported for SEIC (β = 0.17) and S-SE (β = 0.12). Discussion These findings provide specificity matching for personality and L2 self-efficacy domains as empirical advances for assessing global competence within the context of Japan. Implications for cultural influences on self-efficacy and applied educational practices in language and intercultural learning are discussed.
... Recently, there have been increased efforts by scholars to accurately measure the benefits of study abroad programs. Research on student attitudes subsequent to study abroad has noted its effect on several important traits when compared to students who have not studied abroad: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability (Greischel et al., 2018;Zimmermann & Neyer, 2013). Evidence also has linked study abroad to intercultural competence and intercultural sensitivity (Braskamp et al., 2009), along with improving creative thinking (Lee et al., 2012), and problem-solving (Alon & Higgins, 2005). ...
Full-text available
We conduct an exploratory study about study abroad programs in business schools. In a small sample, we find satisfaction with the study abroad experience is positively related to participants’ reported willingness to accept jobs that require international travel and jobs that require international work collaboration. Additionally, students who developed relationships during their study abroad were more likely to evaluate the experience positively, indicating that fostering relationships is an important factor for study abroad leaders to consider. We also employed homesickness as an exploratory variable, finding that expected homesickness is negatively related to expected satisfaction with study abroad experiences, which may explain some reluctance to study and work abroad.
... On the other hand, it is known that being open-minded and liberal often brings respect for human diversity and the ability to accept differences in human nature (24). Living abroad has an undeniable effect on people's worldviews, perceptions, and interpretations of their environment (25). Considering this, it became inevitable to question the effect of living abroad on the level of homophobia in our research. ...
Research finds that going far from home has many positive psychological outcomes such as enhanced creative thinking, and research on creativity reveals that nonconformity can be a useful tool to stimulate innovation. Merging these findings, we theorise that foreign experiences increase nonconformist attitudes and behaviours. In Studies 1 and 2, surveys of Chinese university students and non-student adults consistently showed that multicultural experiences were negatively related to conformity tendencies. Study 3 found that American students who were studying in China demonstrated a lower conformity tendency than American students without multicultural experiences, which suggests that the multicultural experience – conformity link cannot be accounted for by the effects of culture. Results from Study 4 indicated that compared with participants who had planned to go abroad but had not left their home country yet, participants who had lived abroad reported lower levels of conformity. Lastly, experimentally manipulating a focus on foreign experiences (vs. home experiences) facilitates non-conforming ways of thinking in terms of product preference (Study 5). Together, these findings provide evidence that exposure to diverse cultures not only produces divergent psychological consequences as have been found by other researchers, but also leads to the emergence of nonconformity attitudes and behaviours.
Objectives: According to personality development theories, the dramatic environmental transition of study abroad may form a crucible for personality change. Location, social roles, and cultural familiarity suddenly shift, potentially disrupting old habits and creating new ones, building upon the typical maturation occurring during college age. The current study poses questions about selection and socialization effects of study abroad on personality, actual and volitional change in personality, and whether adjustment to study abroad catalyzes change. Method: Longitudinal studies were conducted with Japanese students studying for one year in the USA (N=300), and a comparison sample of students in an English-language program at their university in Japan (N=108). Big Five personality traits and trait-relevant behavior were assessed at the beginning and end of programs, along with three types of volitional change: expectations, perceptions, and desires. Results: Study abroad showed selection effects for higher Extraversion and Emotional Stability traits and developmental and socialization effects of increases in Openness behavior. Expected and perceived change corresponded with actual change (but desired change did not), and cultural adjustment predicted socially desirable trait-relevant behavior before return home. Conclusions: Study abroad was revealed as an environment wherein students both subjectively experienced and actually demonstrated changes in trait-relevant behavior.
An increasing number of students complete an internship during their higher education studies in a country different from that of their home institution. A main advantage of this type of mobility is that it responds to employers' need for graduates with both hands‐on experience and global skills. In this paper, we attempt to review existing research on the types of skills higher education students gain through their participation in international internships. While there are several systematic reviews on study abroad programmes, this is, to the best of our knowledge, the first focusing on internship programmes abroad. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta‐Analyses (PRISMA) approaches were used to explore four electronic databases (Scopus, Google Scholar, ScienceDirect and Resources Information Center). From these, 31 relevant studies were identified, and data were examined using a combination of thematic and content analysis. Intrapersonal skills (e.g., open mindedness, self‐confidence) are found to be the most frequently cited skills learned by participants. Many of the reviewed studies also report learning gains in terms of practical knowledge and language proficiency. On the other hand, there is less evidence suggesting that international internships enhance cognitive skills and leadership skills. The large majority of the reviewed studies, however, have methodological problems. A future research agenda is outlined, along with suggestions for improving the research methodology. Context and implications Rationale for this study Despite the growing popularity of international internships, there is no systematic review that sums up the evidence on the learning gains from this specific type of mobility experience. Why the new findings matter The findings highlight the large breadth of skills higher education students can acquire during international internships. They also outline the important role that this type of mobility experience may play in supporting the development of intrapersonal skills. Implications for educators and researchers This article explores international internship programmes' potential in terms of enhancing participants' skills. The results of such an exercise may provide educators with insights about how to develop these programmes so that they can best support students in their learning. Additionally, this review provides researchers with suggestions on sound methodologies to be used to evaluate the effect of international internships. Several potential directions for future research are also identified. Despite the growing popularity of international internships, there is no systematic review that sums up the evidence on the learning gains from this specific type of mobility experience. The findings highlight the large breadth of skills higher education students can acquire during international internships. They also outline the important role that this type of mobility experience may play in supporting the development of intrapersonal skills. This article explores international internship programmes' potential in terms of enhancing participants' skills. The results of such an exercise may provide educators with insights about how to develop these programmes so that they can best support students in their learning. Additionally, this review provides researchers with suggestions on sound methodologies to be used to evaluate the effect of international internships. Several potential directions for future research are also identified.
This contribution reviews correlates of Berry’s acculturation strategies. The aim was to offer a differentiated overview of correlates that may come into play during different phases of the acculturation process, as antecedents, as concurrent correlates, and as outcome variables. Building on a literature search and previous review papers, k = 61 independent publications ( N = 40,505) were identified. Correlates of acculturation strategies were grouped into 35 variables pertaining to diverse domains, and mixed-effects models were estimated to derive the mean magnitude of the relation. The correlates comprised basic dimensions of personality belonging to the giant three, big five, alternative five, and multicultural personality taxonomies. Further, more specific traits were investigated, including field dependence and dogmatism. The next group comprised the experience of stress and negative emotions as well as different coping styles. Finally, a selection of psychological and health-related correlates as well as a selection of sociocultural adjustment variables were investigated. Results indicate that the acculturation strategies possess differential patterns of relations, thereby supporting a multi-dimensional acculturation model. Generally, integration was characterized by a pattern of correlates that facilitate interacting with other people, coping successfully with stress, and beneficial outcome variables. Marginalization revealed an opposite pattern of relationships in many cases. Assimilation and separation fell in between the other acculturation strategies.
This longitudinal study provides an analysis of the relationship between personality traits and work experiences with a special focus on the relationship between changes in personality and work experiences in young adulthood. Longitudinal analyses uncovered 3 findings. First, measures of personality taken at age 18 predicted both objective and subjective work experiences at age 26. Second, work experiences were related to changes in personality traits from age 18 to 26. Third, the predictive and change relations between personality traits and work experiences were corresponsive: Traits that "selected" people into specific work experiences were the same traits that changed in response to those same work experiences. The relevance of the findings to theories of personality development is discussed.
Personality and social relationships were assessed twice across a 4-year period in a general population sample of 489 German young adults. Two kinds of personality-relationship transaction were observed. First, mean-level change in personality toward maturity (e.g., increase in Conscientiousness and decrease in Neuroticism) was moderated by the transition to partnership but was independent of other developmental transitions. Second, individual differences in personality traits predicted social relationships much better than vice versa. Specifically, once initial correlations were controlled for, Extraversion, Shyness, Neuroticism, self-esteem, and Agreeableness predicted change in various qualities of relationships (especially with friends and colleagues), whereas only quality of relationships with preschool children predicted later Extraversion and Neuroticism. Consequences for the transactional view of personality in young adulthood are discussed.
This article presents findings about continuities in personality development that have been uncovered in the Dunedin study, an investigation of a cohort of children studied from age 3 to 21. At age 3, children were classified into temperament groups on the basis of observations of their behavior. In young adulthood, data were collected from study members themselves, from people who knew them well, and from official records. Undercontrolled 3-year-olds grew up to be impulsive, unreliable, and antisocial, and had more conflict with members of their social networks and in their work. Inhibited 3-year-olds were more likely to be unassertive and depressed and had fewer sources of social support. Early appearing temperamental differences have a pervasive influence on life-course development and offer clues about personality structure, interpersonal relations, psychopathology, and crime in adulthood.