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More time spent abroad increases “self-concept clarity” – confidence in and clarity about who you are

09 May 2018

The idea that taking a gap year allows you to “find yourself” is often derided. But if you spend that time living in one foreign country, it just might. And if you can make it years, even better. 

Hajo Adam at Rice University, US, led what his team say is the first empirical investigation of the effects of living abroad on “self-concept clarity” – how clearly and confidently someone defines who they “are”.

Since people are increasingly spending time living abroad for work or study – and since other “transitional” life experiences, such as getting a new job or getting divorced have been associated with decreases in self-concept clarity – it’s important to study this, the researchers write in their paper in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

The researchers recruited a total of 1,874 people to take part in a series of studies. The first involved 296 people, recruited online. Half had lived abroad at some point. 

Read more in a post from Emma Young on our Research Digest blog.

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