The Relationship Between Previous Foreign Language Study and Personality Change in Youth Exchange Participants


  • Michael H. Stitsworth

    1. Purdue University
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      Michael H. Stitsworth (Ed. D., Indiana University) is an associate professor in the Department of 4-H Youth at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN where he is an international education specialist and administers youth exchange programs.


ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to determine whether changes in personality occur in teenagers during one-month homestays in Japan. The sample consisted of 154 exchangees and 112 control group members who did not travel abroad. The California Psychological Inventory was administered to both groups prior to the exchange, again at its conclusion, and a third time four months later. Antecedent information was collected using a pre-exchange questionnaire. Analysis of covariance was used to determine if the pretest and posttest scores for the two groups were significantly different. Nonparametric tests were used to determine if certain overseas group antecedent subpopulations changed differently. The overseas group increased in flexibility and independence and became less conventional as compared to the control group. Travelers who had studied a foreign language for one or two semesters experienced no significant changes; those with no previous language study and those who had studied a language for three or four semesters changed significantly. Exchangees who were the first member of their family to travel abroad and those who personally paid a high percentage of their trip expenses also changed significantly.