Electronic Theses and Dissertations

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Thesis (UNI Access Only)

Abstract

Studying abroad is associated with numerous benefits including a reduction in prejudice (Sell, 1983) and is therefore encouraged by universities. While studying abroad, staying with host families is one way to get to know and understand the culture better. Staying with host families provides students an opportunity for sustained interpersonal interaction with individuals from the host culture. In this study, I applied Intergroup Contact Theory (Allport, 1954) to students who studied abroad and evaluated whether living with host families while studying abroad moderated attitudes towards individuals from other cultures. I used archival data from 1007 students who completed the Global Perspective Inventory either before or after study abroad from 2009-2014 at a single Midwestern university. I also evaluated whether studying abroad positively influenced student attitudes towards self and others. In addition, I examined whether student major, prior study abroad experience, duration, type (faculty led or not) of study abroad program and type of country visited (degree of difference from the U.S.) influenced attitudes. To examine the influence of type of country, I used the six dimensions provided by Hofstede (Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 2010) to predict openness to different perspectives and diversity in interpersonal relationships.

Studying abroad positively influenced attitudes towards self and others. Students who lived with host families during study abroad reported having more diversity in their interpersonal relationships than students who lived in other settings during study abroad. Students majoring in social sciences and arts and humanities reported being more open to different perspectives than students majoring in business and law and other fields. Students who had more than one study abroad experience, who studied abroad for an extended duration, who studied abroad in non-faculty led programs, or who studied abroad in countries that were less individualistic reported having more diversity in interpersonal relationships than other students. Students who studied abroad for an extended duration or who studied abroad in less masculine countries also reported being more open to different perspectives than students who studied abroad for shorter terms or who studied abroad in more masculine countries. Studying abroad was associated with having more diversity in interpersonal relationships, especially when students lived with host families. This diversity may positively influence students’ attitudes towards others, leading to a reduction in prejudice, consistent with Intergroup Contact Theory. Thus, if universities wish to positively influence students’ attitudes towards others, study abroad and living with host families while studying abroad should be encouraged.

Year of Submission

2017

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Helen C. Harton

Date Original

2017

Object Description

1 PDF file (vi, 128 pages)

Language

EN

File Format

application/pdf

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