The present study aims to investigate which psychosocial factors measured before departure are predictive of various aspects of intercultural adjustment among Japanese teenagers enrolled in a foreign exchange student program. A cohort of 188 Japanese high school students, who had been selected to spend 1 year in various countries of the world under the aegis of an international exchange student program, was administered the Maudsley Personality Inventory, the Parental Bonding Instrument, the General Health Questionnaire and the People in Your Life Scale before their departure from Japan. Six months after arrival in the host community, they were again asked to complete the General Health Questionnaire and relevant sections of the People in Your Life Scale. The students showed highly significant and substantial deterioration in all three areas of psychosocial adjustment: They reported more psychiatric symptoms, less availability of social relationships, and less satisfaction with them in their host community than at home. Psychiatric symptoms were best predicted by perceived adequacy of intimate attachments and neuroticism measured before departure, availability of social relationships abroad by availability and adequacy of social relationships and adequacy of attachments at home, and satisfaction with social relationships abroad by satisfaction with attachments at home and by paternal care before age 16. This study thus demonstrates that studying abroad entails deterioration in psychosocial adjustment of the adolescents studied and that different factors are influential in different aspects of adjustment. The importance of a prospective and multifaceted study of intercultural adjustment process is emphasized.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health