First Advisor

Tina Burdsall

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology and University Honors




Cultural pluralism, International travel -- Psychological aspects




Growing informational technology and international business alongside the speed of travel, have facilitated intercultural contact and increased the need for intercultural competency. As the world shrinks there are less defined lines between "us" and "them" and there is an increased need to look beyond our differences and focus on genuine human similarities. Intercultural competency is the ability to interact and communicate with another culture without violating valued social norms. Intercultural competency is preceded by a process of exposure and adaptation to new environments. Intercultural exposure is easily facilitated by international travel. Experiences abroad can be divided into two categories, quality and quantity. It has been suggested that the type of international travel rather than quantity of time spent abroad influences intercultural adaptation. The focus of this paper is to propose long term international travel as an important part of achieving intercultural competency. It is theorized that there is a progressive process that moves a person from ethnocentrism to ethnorelativism. Understanding the way in which one learns to move through this process is an important part of identifying how one becomes interculturally competent. It is essential to recognize factors specific to the individual as well as the cultures and societies they are moving between. It has been found that people who successfully adapt interculturally to become bicultural or multicultural have high correlations with extroversion, creativity, restraint and intellect. Other studies suggest that there is a higher level of cognitive complexity among bicultural or multicultural persons opposed to monocultural persons.


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