Culture and personality in international schools: are trait differences in students’ personalities attenuated or amplified?

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Abstract

International schools provide a unique context for examining the influence of culture on adolescent personality and identity. In order to investigate whether intercultural education attenuates or amplifies known cultural differences in personality, the traits of 81 students from Chinese, North American, and mixed Chinese-North American cultural backgrounds were assessed. An online version of a Five Factor Model (FFM) personality inventory was used to measure personality. Students participating in the study attended a large, American international high school in Hong Kong. Despite previous studies showing cultural differences in personality, MANOVA results yielded no significant differences between the personality traits of students from Chinese, North American or mixed Chinese-North American cultural backgrounds. The findings support theories that propose intercultural schooling is associated with acculturation. Paradoxically, numerous qualitative investigations of cultural identity have concluded that a more distinctive, amplified cultural identity emerges when individuals move to more multicultural environments. The paper considers these different findings and the role of personality in culturally diverse classrooms. Implications for intercultural education are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-433
Number of pages16
JournalIntercultural Education
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

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