Birds of a Feather Fare Less Well Together: Modeling Predictors of International Student Adaptation

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Gibbs R., Gueneri O., Pankau T., Bikos L.

SUSTAINABILITY, vol.12, no.6, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/su12062317
  • Journal Name: SUSTAINABILITY
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Aerospace Database, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, CAB Abstracts, Communication Abstracts, Geobase, INSPEC, Metadex, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: sociocultural adaptation, international students, need for cognitive closure, cultural distance, SOCIOCULTURAL ADJUSTMENT, ACCULTURATION, VALIDATION, NEED, DISTRESS, IMPACT
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Sociocultural adaptation to the host country is an important corollary to the psychological well-being of international students. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) to test a model of sociocultural adaptation and psychological wellbeing. International students in Ankara, Turkey (N = 161, mean age = 22.35) completed online surveys. Consistent with our hypotheses, interpersonal connections with host nationals predicted greater sociocultural adaptation (beta = 0.250, p = 0.001) and interpersonal connections with co-nationals resulted in poorer psychological adjustment (beta = -0.171, p = 0.025). Host-country language proficiency led to better sociocultural adaptation (beta = 0.262, p < 0.001), and perceptions of greater cultural distance had a negative impact on both psychological (beta = 0.314, p < 0.001) and sociocultural adaptation (beta = 0.328, p < 0.001). Thus, students who were able to engage in relations with host-country nationals fared better. Our results provide insight for sending and receiving institutions regarding the preparation (e.g., exploring cognitive frames for immersion, language skills, reviewing coping strategies) and supportive services (e.g., connection with host country nationals) that will facilitate the adjustment of international students.