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Personality traits as indicators of international students' intercultural communication competence

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posted on 2023-08-30, 17:40 authored by Faris S. Allehyani
This longitudinal PhD thesis investigates the relationship between personality traits and intercultural communication competence among international students in Saudi Arabia. The study also explores whether various demographic and contextual factors affect intercultural communication competence. The work addresses two gaps in the literature relating to (1) the lack of research on the link between personality traits and intercultural communication competence and (2) the paucity of research on intercultural competence in the Saudi educational context. Personality traits can affect how people interact with others and how they behave in new situations. This study uses mixed-methods approach to explore the relationship between personality traits and intercultural communication competence. Participants’ intercultural communication competence was measured using the Assessment of Intercultural Competence and the International Personality Item Pool for personality traits of neuroticism, extroversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness. A total of 95 international students at Umm Al Qura University completed the surveys in April 2017, 53 of whom repeated the assessment in April 2019. Interviews were conducted with 12 students to clarify survey results. The key survey findings included lower neuroticism and higher openness predicted participants’ overall intercultural competence at both assessment points. Other personality traits predicted specific intercultural abilities: agreeableness predicted intercultural awareness, conscientiousness predicted intercultural knowledge and skills and extroversion fostered intercultural attitudes and skills. After two years in Saudi Arabia, extroversion enhanced intercultural knowledge and skills. The surveys also found that participation in an orientation programme did not affect students’ intercultural communication competence at the two time points. Interviews confirmed that intercultural competence depended more on openness than extroversion and orientation programme was insufficiently developed. To improve international students’ intercultural communication competence, educational institutions should develop intercultural training programmes that offer particular support for neurotic, agreeable and conscientious students, as these individuals are least likely to have well-developed intercultural competence.



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