MOPED: MObility and PErsonality Development

International mobility is an increasingly important developmental task in young adulthood. The decision to move abroad as well as the experiences people make while being abroad are likely influenced by the distinct ways people regularly think, feel and behave, i.e. their personality traits. At the same time, international mobility should influence the development of personality. As international mobility allows for both, (a) shared normative experiences such as an increasing personal responsibility and the learning of a new language, and (b) idiosyncratic experiences such as many or few social or cultural activities, it should affect mean-level changes (in comparisons to people without mobility experiences) as well as rank-order changes (within people with mobility experiences) of personality. The MOPED project uses international mobility as a research context for fine-grained analyses of the processes underlying mean-level and rank-order personality change in young adulthood. A sample of more than 800 international exchange students filled out a personality questionnaire (e.g., Big Five, self-esteem, self-efficacy, narcissism, values, goals, interests, coping styles, stereotypes,..) before their departure (T1), immediately after they returned (T2), and again one year later (T3). During their stay abroad they filled out a monthly state-survey asking for their well-being (satisfaction with life, positive and negative affect), self-esteem (physical, social, achievement, and contextualized adjustment (e.g., peers, family, culture). In addition, a control group (N=700) reported on the personality questionnaires at T1 and T2. We will use this data-set to explore a variety of questions, including (1) Does personality predict who experiences international mobility (selection effects)? (2) Does international mobility change people’s personality (investment effects)? (3) Does personality influence how well people adjust during their stay abroad (adaptation effect)? (4) Does adjustment during international mobility predict personality change (socialization effects)?

Collaborators:
Boris Egloff, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany
Franz Neyer, Jena University, Germany