Monday, December 19, 2016

Extended travel affects personality; becoming a different person when hitting the road

In some ways we are all the same - we all have the same human nature and we all share a common humanity. We all have human bodies and human minds; we all have human thoughts and human feelings. What makes us different seems to be the characteristics we think of as personality, many of the times sufficient enough to describe differences between people. 

PEDES is a research project launched by the Department of Personality Psychology and Psychological Assessment at the Friedrich Schiller University aimed at contributing to a better understanding of personality development in general. One of the fields of study has been the interplay between personality and international mobility experiences in young adulthood. 

The research focus has been on the basic personality traits (referred to as the Big Five traits) which include a broad variety of characteristics people use to describe themselves and others:

- Openness (characteristics such as openness to ideas, to actions, and to values)
- Conscientiousness (dutifulness, self-discipline, achievement striving)
- Extraversion (gregariousness, warmth, assertiveness),
- Agreeableness (altruism, trust, compliance),
- Neuroticism (anxiety, hostility, vulnerability to stress)

Authors argue that international mobility is a relevant life event for the personality development of young adults. Extended foreign travel takes people outside of their comfort zone, since travelers have to adapt to new people and new cultural practices and
also implies to gain perspective on life, which made them less emotionally reactive to day-to-day changes. Overall, studies have confirmed the fundamental importance of personality characteristics with regard to mobility decisions.