Psychological and Socio‐cultural Adjustment during Cross‐cultural Transitions: A Comparison of Secondary Students Overseas and at Home

Colleen Ward, Antony Kennedy
Published Online:
27 Sep 2007
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 28 Issue 2

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The study further explores the distinction of psychological and socio‐cultural adjustment during cross‐cultural transitions. One hundred and seventy‐eight New Zealand American Field Service (AFS) students residing in 23 different countries completed questionnaires which contained assessments of the following: Personality (extraversion and locus of control); life changes (Social Readjustment Rating Questionnaire); homesickness, cultural distance, acculturation (cultural identity and cultural integration—separation); attitudes toward host country; language ability; amount of contact with host and co‐nationals; relationship satisfaction with co‐nationals, host nationals and host family; and outcome measures of socio‐cultural (social difficulty) and psychological adjustment (Profile of Mood States). Stepwise regressions revealed that homesickness, external locus of control, life changes, and social difficulty accounted for 55% of the variance in psychological adjustment. In contrast, cultural distance, language ability, satisfaction with host national contact, cultural separation and mood disturbance explained 52% of the variance in socio‐cultural adaptation. In the second part of the research, psychological and socio‐cultural adjustment of AFS students was compared with a sample of 142 home‐based New Zealand secondary school students. Although there were no significant differences in psychological adjustment between the two groups, the students who were resident abroad experienced greater socio‐cultural difficulties than the students resident in New Zealand (P < 0.0005), and, as hypothesized, the correlation between psychological and socio‐cultural adjustment was significantly greater in the home‐based students compared to the AFS group (P < 0.0001).

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