Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Mobile at University – Fit for Life

Psychologists at Jena University proof positive ‘side effects’ of studying abroad

Spain, France and Great Britain – these are the favourite countries of young Germans who study abroad under the ERASMUS programme. More and more German students consider one or two terms at a university abroad an essential part of their CVs.

As a consequence, the number of students who spent some time at a foreign university has more than doubled over the last few years and it is estimated that about a quarter of all German students have gained some form of international experiences.

And that is worth it – not only in terms of university and career success. Sojourning in a foreign country also has positive effects on the students’ personal development. That is what psychologists of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany) could prove in the context of the project ‘PEDES – Personality Development of Sojourners’ which is up to now the most comprehensive study about the effects of student sojourning. Dr. Julia Zimmermann and Professor Dr. Franz Neyer present their research results in the magazine ‘Journal of Personality and Social Psychology’ (DOI: 10.1037/a0033019).

“To find one’s way in a foreign country is an important life experience,” states Professor Neyer. “Such experiences have influence on the personality development of young adults.” “Therefore we posed the question whether a stay abroad can influence the personality development of sojourning students,” Julia Zimmermann says. To answer this question, the psychologist conducted an online-study that followed a sample of more than 1,000 students from about 200 German universities over the course of an academic year.

The sample included both students who were planning to go abroad as well as a control group of students who stayed in Germany during that time period. All students completed three online questionnaire, the first one shortly before the beginning of the term – either abroad or in Germany –, the second and third one five and eight months later, respectively. Amongst others, the questionnaires included measures of the Big Five personality traits, i.e., Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Emotional Stability that are considered to constitute the basic dimensions of human personality.

The result: “Those students who are about to study abroad are – even before they leave – more open-minded, conscientious and extravert than their fellow students who stay at home,” says Julia Zimmermann. Moreover, the Jena psychologists assessed the personality changes the experience sojourning abroad brings about: “Those who spent some time abroad profit in their personality development, for instance in terms of growing openness and emotional stability. Their development regarding these characteristics clearly differed from the control group even when initial personality differences were taken into account,” says the psychologist, who herself studied in France with the European ERASMUS-programme during her time at university.

The researchers identified the much higher numbers of international contacts as a mechanism to explain these differences in personality development. “People who integrate successfully into a different culture may find it easier to cope with new situations and master challenges,” assumes Dr. Zimmermann. “However, it is not imperative to go abroad to gain these experiences. But those who hit the road clearly benefit from the sojourning experience,” Zimmermann resumes. According to the Jena researchers their findings suggest that the generous support of student sojourns abroad is worth to be continued in the future.

Julia Zimmermann, Franz J. Neyer: Do We Become a Different Person When Hitting the Road? Personality Development of Sojourners, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2013, DOI: 10.1037/a0033019

Dr. Julia Zimmermann, Prof. Dr. Franz Neyer
Institute of Psychology
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Humboldtstraße 11, D-07743 Jena
Phone: ++49 3641 / 945168, ++49 3641 / 945161
Email: zimmermann.julia[at], franz.neyer[at]

Dr. Ute Schönfelder | idw
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>