How Living Abroad Helps You Develop a Clearer Sense of Self

In today’s increasingly globalized world, more and more people are choosing to live, work and study abroad — and this trend appears to be a good thing: Social science studies have shown that international experiences can enhance creativity, reduce intergroup bias, and promote career success. Researchers set out to examine whether and how international experiences can transform a person’s sense of self. Specifically, they focused on “self-concept clarity,” the extent to which someone’s understanding of himself or herself is “clearly and confidently defined, internally consistent, and temporally stable” — a trait that has been linked to increased well-being and job performance. In six studies with 1,874 participants, they found that living abroad leads to greater self-concept clarity — which can lead to clearer career decisions — and what matters is depth rather than breadth of living abroad experiences.

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