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The Shortest Path to Oneself Leads Around the World: Living and Working Abroad Increase Self-Clarity


The current research explores the relationship between living abroad and self-concept clarity. We conducted six studies (N = 1,874) using different populations (online panels and MBA students), mixed methods (correlational and experimental), and complementary measures of self-concept clarity (self-report and self-other congruence through 360-degree ratings). Our results indicate that living abroad leads to a clearer sense of self because it prompts self-discerning reflections on whether parts of their identity truly define who they are or merely reflect their cultural upbringing. Furthermore, it is the depth (the length of time lived abroad) rather than the breadth (the number of foreign countries lived in) of living abroad experiences that enhances self-concept clarity. Finally, our results highlight an important consequence of the link between living abroad and self-concept clarity: career decision-making clarity. Our research suggests that going far from home can lead one closer to the self, with implications for significant life decisions.


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