Effects of bonding with parents and home culture on intercultural adaptations and the moderating role of genes

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Abstract

In the current age of globalization, living abroad is becoming an increasingly common and highly sought after experience. Sojourners’ ability to adjust to a new culture can be affected by their existing attachments, internalized as intrapsychic environment, as well as their biological sensitivity to environment. This sensitivity can be partly attributed to one’s genomic endowments. As such, this prospective study sought to examine the differential effects of early experiences with parents and affection for home culture on young adults’ ability to adapt to a foreign culture (n = 305, students who studied overseas for a semester) – specifically, the difficulties they experience – moderated by genetic susceptibility. An additional 258 students who did not travel overseas were included as a comparison group to demonstrate the uniqueness of intercultural adaptation. Current findings suggest that the maternal, paternal and cultural bondings or affections affect different aspects of intercultural adjustment. Maternal bonding affected sojourners’ relationships with host nationals, while paternal bonding affected sojourners’ adjustment to a new physical environment. Moreover, individuals’ genetic predispositions significantly moderate these main effects regarding how much difficulty the sojourners experienced overseas.

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