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Personality Changes after the ‘Year Abroad’? A Mixed-Methods Study

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JournalStudy Abroad Research in Second Language Acquisition and International Education
DateAccepted/In press - 2016
DatePublished (current) - Jan 2016
Issue number1
Volume1
Pages (from-to)107-127
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This study utilizes a mixed-methods approach to investigate personality changes of British undergraduate students who spent their third year abroad in a French or Spanish-speaking country. Personality changes were measured quantitatively using the Multicultural Personality Questionnaire (MPQ, Van der Zee & Van Oudenhoven, 2000; 2001), administered twice: pre-departure and after returning to their home university. A reflective interview was also conducted at the end of their stay abroad and analysed qualitatively to investigate whether students noted any personality changes. The MPQ results demonstrate statistically significant changes over time on the Emotional Stability factor only. These results are supported by the reflective interviews as 77% of participants mentioned feeling more confident and independent after residence abroad. Based on these findings, residence abroad appears to be an example of a type of social investment with the potential to positively affect the emotional stability of university students undertaking the experience as temporary sojourners.

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