Students who spend a semester or year abroad show positive changes in their personality, according to a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Researchers at Germany’s Friedrich Schiller University Jena surveyed more than 1,100 students, including 527 who studied abroad and a control group of 607 who did not, on measures associated with the “Big Five” personality traits (agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, extraversion, and openness). They found significant differences between the two groups even after controlling for higher levels of extraversion, open-mindedness and conscientiousness exhibited by study abroad students before leaving home.
"Those who spent some time abroad profit in their personality development, for instance in terms of growing openness and emotional stability," Julia Zimmermann, the lead author, said in a press release. "Their development regarding these characteristics clearly differed from the control group even when initial personality differences were taken into account."