International sojourn experience and personality development: Selection and socialization effects of studying abroad and the Big Five

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As part of a multi-study project, this test-retest study seeks to identify the relations between studying abroad and a sojourner's personality as measured by the Big Five personality traits. It thereby attempts to answer the questions of who chooses to study abroad and how study abroad changes personality. A total of 221 students from a German university were tracked over the course of a semester, with the Big Five being obtained via a German version of the Big Five Inventory (Lang, Lüdtke, & Asendorpf, 2001) both at the beginning and at the end. The share of 93 students who studied abroad were found to rate higher in agreeableness and openness prior to the international experience than their fellow students who did not sojourn. In turn, sojourning evoked increases in both extraversion and agreeableness and a decrease in neuroticism. Upon inclusion of interaction terms of initial Big Five levels and study abroad status, positive main effects of study abroad and negative interaction effects for both agreeableness and conscientiousness could be observed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Pages (from-to)55-61
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 01.07.2017

    Research areas

  • Psychology - Big Five, International experience, Life events, Personality development, Study abroad