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Study abroad programs are becoming increasingly popular, yet leaving home to live in a foreign country can be very stressful. We tested the idea that self-determined motivation to study abroad can prevent students from experiencing culture shock and support their subjective well-being, using a sample of 131 international students studying in the United States. After controlling for demographic variables, personality traits, length of stay in the United States, and external difficulties (e.g., language), self-determined study abroad motivation was associated with lower culture shock and greater contextual subjective well-being. Furthermore, basic psychological needs satisfaction fully mediated these relationships. The present study shows that international students’ motivation influences their acculturation, by helping them to meet their own needs in the new context. Theoretical and practical implications, as well as study limitations, are discussed.


School of Psychology

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Journal Article

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