Students’ Study Abroad Plans: the Influence of Motivational and Personality Factors

  • Manyu Li
  • Josephine E. Olson
  • Irene Hanson Frieze
Keywords: Study abroad, Internationalization of higher education, College education, Achievement motivation, neophilia, Education abroad


Study abroad is becoming an increasingly important part of a college education. The present study investigated the psychological factors predicting college students’ study abroad intentions, including students’ achievement motivation, neophilia, migrant personality and desire to help, by comparing students with high to those with low study abroad intentions. These personality factors related to themes found in mission statements of programs taking students to other countries for brief trips or longer studies. The relative importance of these factors was investigated with a sample of 431 largely first-year undergraduates enrolled in a large introductory psychology class.  Results showed that students with high intentions to study abroad had higher scores on all the factors being studied, as hypothesized. These findings might be applied in promoting study abroad in institutions and in developing programs to better fit student interests.


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Author Biographies

Manyu Li

Manyu Li is a Doctoral Student at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests are on cultures, migration, and place attachment. She is a coauthor of a book chapter on mobility and personality and is the first author of several other papers on migration and cultures of Eastern European and North American. She also looks into specific types of migration, such as study abroad and leisure travel. In studying place attachment, she also develops a new measurement for the concept which has been applied in different countries, such as the United States, Slovene and Croatia, and in different groups of people, including students, working adults and retired individuals.

Josephine E. Olson

Josephine E. Olson is Professor of Business Administration and Director of the International Business Center at the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh. She teaches courses in international economics and conducts a number of short-term study abroad programs for undergraduates and MBA students.

Irene Hanson Frieze

Irene Hanson Friezeis a Professor of Psychology, Business Administration and Women’s Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She has previously published work on the migrant personality utilizing data from a longitudinal cross-sectional study of changing attitudes among university students in Croatia, as well as Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Russia.


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How to Cite
Li, M., Olson, J. E., & Frieze, I. H. (2013). Students’ Study Abroad Plans: the Influence of Motivational and Personality Factors. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 23(1), 73-89.
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