Papers from the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology Conferences

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Expatriate children and adolescents typically spend several of their formative years moving from country to country, frequently having to adapt to new cultures, making new friends, and fit into new school systems. It has been established in literature that such frequent changes may cause increased and prolonged risk of developing internalizing behavior problems such as depression and anxiety. However, little is still known regarding which protective factors serve as buffer towards the increased risk within the expatriate demographic. This study examined risk and protective factors among a group of expatriates, adolescents, and their parents, originating from 21 countries on five continents. Adolescent resilience was established through measuring risk and protective factors within three domains (i) individual, (ii) family, and (iii) school/community. In particular, the results indicated that adolescents’ sense of coherence, positive family climate, and satisfaction with school and friends, each predicted resilience significantly above other demographic factors. Interestingly, higher number of international moves did not predict adolescents’ resilience. The results imply that a coherent identity, high self-esteem, sense of “Third Cultural” group belonging, paired with a robust family environment, would promote resilience in the expatriate population. This may in turn serve as a buffer towards the negative effects caused by a stressful, transient upbringing.


Corresponding Author: Jorunn Jo Holmberg, Centre for Cross-Cultural and Evolution, Brunel University London,

Uxbridge, UB8 3PH, United Kingdom


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