Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Psychology (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Virginia Wickline


This study aimed to replicate and extend on previous research demonstrating that international study-abroad experiences can alter a plethora of culturally related views and attitudes associated with intercultural competence. Moreover, studying abroad has been shown to make students more knowledgeable of, compassionate toward. and skilled when working with people from other cultures. Additionally, previous research has provided evidence that some Big Five personality traits can predict scores on intercultural competence measures, suggesting that some individuals may be more open to the potential benefits of studying abroad more than others. For this study, I hypothesized that from before to after studying abroad, students would score higher in intercultural sensitivity, global mindedness, ethnocultural empathy, and comfort zones, and score lower in ethnocentrism and intercultural communication apprehension. I also hypothesized that study abroad participants scoring lower in neuroticism and higher in other personality traits (openness, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness) would display more intercultural growth. Furthermore, a thematic analysis of free-response questions was conducted to understand further areas of satisfaction and concern amongst study abroad students. Using Wilcoxon tests, significant positive changes only occurred in intercultural communication apprehension, but this pattern of findings may have been the result of unforeseen methodological problems. Agreeableness and openness were the two traits most correlated with the intercultural competence scales, and neuroticism was negatively correlated with only comfort zones and intercultural communication apprehension. A revised study is necessary to account for discrepancies in the literature and to ensure that no Type II errors occurred in our pre-post analysis.

Thesis Summary

This thesis examined whether studying abroad could affect peoples' views and attitudes of different cultures through the utilization of quantitative measures of intercultural competence on a sample of study abroad students. The Big 5 personality traits were also explored in relation to these constructs, and a thematic analysis of free response answers in included.