An examination of the relationship between students' interaction with host nationals while on study abroad and their development of intercultural sensitivity

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2004-05-12

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This study examined the relationship between students' interactions with host nationals while on study abroad and their development of intercultural sensitivity. The theoretical base was drawn from Allport's (1954) contact hypothesis. The researcher used the Intercultural Sensitivity Scale (Chen & Starosta, 2000), items revised from previous studies concerning interaction with difference, and demographic items. The sample consisted of 60 undergraduate students who had returned to the University of Maryland from a Fall 2003 semester abroad. Regression results found a significant increase in students' level of intercultural sensitivity prior to participating in study abroad and their level upon their return. The results are limited by low response rates. No significant relationship was found between the students' interactions with host nationals as measured in this study and their development of intercultural sensitivity. Future research is needed to further apply and operationalize Allport's (1954) contact hypothesis.

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