Personality Traits as Indicators of the Development of Intercultural Communication Competence

Faris Allehyani


This paper draws on a PhD thesis that investigates the relationship between personality traits and Intercultural Communication Competence (ICC). This research explores if specific personality traits of international students can enhance the success/failure of ICC development and in how far can specific personality traits influence the ability of international students to communicate effectively in an intercultural context. It presents a case study on 95 international undergraduates studying in Saudi Arabia. Based on the Five-Factor Model (FFM) of Personality, Assessment of Intercultural Competence (AIC) to measure participants’ ICC and the International Personality Item Pool IPIP-NEO-120 to identify their personality traits of Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness and Agreeableness, were administered to explore the relationship between personality traits and ICC. It found that Openness and Conscientiousness had a positive correlation with ICC with while Neuroticism negatively correlated with ICC. It also found no correlation between Extroversion and Agreeableness and the development of ICC.

Full Text:



ABOUT UQU, 2017. [online]. Umm Al Qura University 2016. [11 April, 2017]. Available from:

ALSUBAIE, H., VALENZUELA, F,R., and Adapa, S., 2015. ‘The advent of Western-style shopping centers and changes in Saudi women’s purchasing behavior’. In: E.G. Hatem and R. Eid (Eds.), Emerging research on Islamic marketing and tourism in the global economy, Hershey: IGI Global.

BAIER, S.T., 2005. International Students: Culture Shock and Adaptation to the US Culture. Master's Theses and Doctoral Dissertations.

BARDI, A. and GUERRA, V.M., 2011. Cultural values predict coping using culture as an individual difference variable in multicultural samples. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 42(6), pp. 908-927.

BARRICK, M.R. and MOUNT, M.K., 2012. Nature and Use of Personality in Selection. In: N. SCHMITT, ed, The Oxford handbook of personnel assessment and selection. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 225-251.

BENNETT, J., 2011. Developing intercultural competence for international education faculty and staff Association of international education administrators conference workshop, San Francisco, CA, pp. 20-23.

BLOCK, J., 2010. The five-factor framing of personality and beyond: Some ruminations. Psychological Inquiry, 21(1), pp. 2-25.

BYRAM, M., GRIBKOVA, B. and STARKEY, H., 2002. Developing the intercultural dimension in language teaching. A practical introduction for teachers. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, pp. 1-41.

CONSTANTINE, M.G., OKAZAKI, S. and UTSEY, S.O., 2004. Self-concealment, social self-efficacy, acculturative stress, and depression in African, Asian, and Latin American international college students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 74(3), pp. 230-241.

COOPER, C., 2015. Individual differences and personality. Abington: Routledge.

COSTA, P.T. and MCCRAE, R.R., 1992. Four ways five factors are basic. Personality and Individual Differences, 13(6), pp. 653-665.

CRESWELL, J.W., 2014. Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches. 4th ed. edn. Thousand Oaks: Thousand Oaks: SAGE Pub.

DAVIS, E., 2014. Saudi women international students in the United States: A qualitative examination of cultural adjustment. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

DEARDORFF, D.K., 2006. Identification and Assessment of Intercultural Competence as a Student Outcome of Internationalization. Journal of Studies in International Education, 10(3), pp. 241-266.

DEARDORFF, D.K., 2009. The SAGE handbook of intercultural competence. Los Angeles: SAGE.

DEARDORFF, D.K., 2011. Assessing intercultural competence. New Directions for Institutional Research, 2011(149), pp. 65-79.

EMERT, H.A., 2008. Developing intercultural competence through teaching abroad with Fulbright: Personal experience and professional impact. ProQuest.

ENGBERG, M.E. and JOURIAN, T.J., 2015. Intercultural wonderment and study abroad. Frontiers: the Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 25, pp. 1-19.

FANTINI, A., 2006. Exploring and assessing intercultural competence. Brattleboro: Federation EIL.

FANTINI, A.E., 2009. Developing Intercultural Competencies: An Educational Imperative for the21st Century. 言語文化研究, 28(2), pp. 193-213.

FANTINI, A. and TIRMIZI, A., 2006. Exploring and assessing intercultural competence. World Learning Publications. Paper 1.

GEERAERT, N. and DEMOULIN, S., 2013. Acculturative stress or resilience? A longitudinal multilevel analysis of sojourners' stress and self-esteem. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, pp. 0022022113478656.

GOLDBERG, L.R., JOHNSON, J.A., EBER, H.W., HOGAN, R., ASHTON, M.C., CLONINGER, C.R. and GOUGH, H.G., 2006. The international personality item pool and the future of public- domain personality measures. Journal of Research in Personality, 40(1), pp. 84-96.

GURVEN, M., VON RUEDEN, C., MASSENKOFF, M., KAPLAN, H. and LERO VIE, M., 2013. How Universal Is the Big Five? Testing the Five-Factor Model of Personality Variation Among Forager–Farmers in the Bolivian Amazon. Journal of personality and social psychology, 104(2), pp. 354-370.

GUTEL, H., 2008. The Home Stay: A Gendered Perspective. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 15, pp. 173-188.

GUTIERREZ, R., HAWTHORNE, A., KIRK, M., and Powers, C., 2009. Expanding U.S. study abroad in the Arab world: Challenges and opportunities, Meeting America’s Global Education Challenge, 4, pp. 1-40.

HARRISON, N. and PEACOCK, N., 2010. Cultural distance, mindfulness and passive xenophobia: using Integrated Threat Theory to explore home higher education students’ perspectives on ‘internationalisation at home’. British Educational Research Journal, 36(6), pp. 877-902.

HASHEMI, M.R. and BABAII, E., 2013. Mixed methods research: Toward new research designs in applied linguistics. Modern Language Journal, 97(4), pp. 828-852.

HAVRIL, A.K., 2015. Improving Intercultural Competence of Female University Students in EFL within Saudi Arabia. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 192, pp. 554-566.

HILTON, A. and SKRUTKOWSKI, M., 2002. Translating instruments into other languages: development and testing processes. Cancer nursing, 25(1), pp. 1-7.

Hofstede, G., 2011. ‘Dimensiolising cultures: The Hofstede model in context’, Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2 (1), pp. 1-26.

JOHNSON, J.A., 2014. Measuring thirty facets of the Five Factor Model with a 120- item public domain inventory: Development of the IPIP- NEO- 120. Journal of Research in Personality, 51, pp. 78-89.

KAROLAK, M., and GUTA, H., 2014. Intercultural communication in the context of Saudi Arab tertiary education. In: R. Raddawi, ed, Intercultural communication with Arabs: Studies in educational, professional and societal contexts. New York: Springer, pp.41-56.

KHAN, M., RO, H., GREGOEY, A., and Hara, T., 2016. ‘Gender dynamics from an Arab perspective: Intercultural service encounters’, Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 57(1), pp. 51-65.

KLINE, P., 1993. Personality: the psychometric view. London: Routledge.

LAURING, J., 2011. Intercultural Organizational Communication: The Social Organizing of Interaction in International Encounters. Journal of Business Communication, 48(3), pp. 231-255.

LEUNG, K., ANG, S., and TAN, M., 2014. Intercultural competence. Annual Review of Organisational Psychology and Organisational Behaviour, 1, pp. 489-519.

LIEVENS, F., CHASTEEN, C.S., DAY, E.A. and CHRISTIANSEN, N.D., 2006. Large-scale investigation of the role of trait activation theory for understanding assessment center convergent and discriminant validity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(2), pp. 247.

LILES and MELISSA, 2016. How to Integrate Intercultural Learning into Your Classroom.

LITTLEWOOD, W., ed, 2008. Second Language Learning. Blackwell Publishing.

MAPLES, J.L., GUAN, L., CARTER, N.T. and MILLER, J.D., 2014. A Test of the International Personality Item Pool Representation of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory and Development of a 120- Item IPIP- Based Measure of the Five- Factor Model. Psychological assessment, 26(4), pp. 1070-1084.

MCCRAE, R.R. and SUTIN, A.R., 2007. New Frontiers for the Five‐Factor Model: A Preview of the Literature. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 1(1), pp. 423-440.

MCCRAE, R.R., YAMAGATA, S., JANG, K.L., RIEMANN, R., ANDO, J., ONO, Y., ANGLEITNER, A. and SPINATH, F.M., 2008. Substance and artifact in the higher-order factors of the Big Five. Journal of personality and social psychology, 95(2), pp. 442.

MCCRAE, R.R., 2001. Trait Psychology and Culture: Exploring Intercultural Comparisons. Journal of personality, 69(6), pp. 819-846.

MILSTEIN, T., 2005. Transformation abroad: Sojourning and the perceived enhancement of self- efficacy. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 29(2), pp. 217-238.

MOODIAN, M.A., ed, 2008. JOURNEYS THROUGH THE ECOLOGICAL NICHE. Contemporary leadership and intercultural competence: Exploring the cross-cultural dynamics within organisations edn. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

OTHMAN, A.K., HAMZAH, M.I. and HASHIM, N., 2014. Conceptualizing the Islamic Personality Model. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 130, pp. 114-119.

PALMER, J., 2013. ‘Intercultural competence and language variety on study abroad programs: L2 learners of Arabic’, Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 22, pp. 58-83.

POPESCU, A., BORCA, C. and BAESU, V., 2014. A STUDY ON MULTICULTURAL PERSONALITY. Cross-Cultural Management Journal, XVI(1), pp. 147-156.

PUSCH, M.D., ed, 2009. The interculturally competent global leader. The Sage handbook of intercultural competence edn.

RAJAGOPALAN, K., ed, 2008. 16 The Philosophy of Applied Linguistics. John Wiley & Sons.

ROTHMANN, S. and COETZER, E.P., 2003. The big five personality dimensions and job performance. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, 29(1), pp. 68-74.

RYDING, K., 1995. Discourse competence in TAFL: Skill levels and choice of language variety in the Arabic classroom. In: M. AL-BATAL, edn, The teaching of Arabic as a foreign language: Issues and directions. Provo: American Association of Teachers of Arabic.

SHIEH, C., 2014. Effects of culture shock and cross-cultural adaptation on learning satisfaction of mainland china students studying in Taiwan. Revista internacional de sociología, 72(2), pp. 57-67.

SPENADER, A.J. and RETKA, P., 2015. The Role of Pedagogical Variables in Intercultural Development: A Study of Faculty Led Programs. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 25, pp. 20-36.

SPITZBERG, B.H., & CHANGNON, G., 2009. Conceptualizing intercultural competence. In D. K. Deardorff, edn., The SAGE handbook of intercultural competence, pp. 2–52. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

STEMLER, S.E., IMADA, T. and SORKIN, C., 2014. Development and validation of the Wesleyan Intercultural Competence Scale (WICS): A tool for measuring the impact of study abroad experiences. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, XXIV, pp. 25-47.

STIER, J., 2006. Internationalisation, intercultural communication and intercultural competence. Journal of intercultural communication, 11(1), pp. 1-12.

SUCHAN, J., 2014. Toward an understanding of Arabic persuasion: A Western perspective, International Journal of Business Communication, 51(3), pp. 1-25.

VAN DER ZEE, K. and VAN OUDENHOVEN, J.P., 2013. Culture shock or challenge? The role of personality as a determinant of intercultural competence. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44(6), pp. 928-940.

VAN DRIEL, M. and GABRENYA, W.K., 2012. Organizational cross-cultural competence: Approaches to measurement. Journal of cross-cultural psychology, pp. 1-26.

VANDE BERG, M., CONNOR-LINTON, J. and PAIGE, R.M., 2009. The Georgetown consortium project: Interventions for student learning abroad. Frontiers: The interdisciplinary journal of study abroad, 18, pp. 1-75.

VENKATESH, V., BROWN, S. and BALA, H., 2013. Bridging the Qualitative-Quantitative Divide: Guidelines for Conducting Mixed Methods Research in Information Systems. MIS Quarterly, 37(1), pp. 21-54.

WARD, C., BOCHNER, S. and FURNHAM, A., 2001. The psychology of culture shock. Hove: Routledge.

WILSON, J., WARD, C. and FISCHER, R., 2013. Beyond Culture Learning Theory What Can Personality Tell Us About Cultural Competence? Journal of cross-cultural psychology, 44(6), pp. 900-927.

WINKELMAN, M., 1994. Cultural shock and adaptation. Journal of Counseling and Development, 73(2), pp. 121-126.

XIAOCHI, Z., 2012. Discussion on International Internship and Intercultural Competence from a Perspective of Higher Educational Internationalization-A Case Study of the Program Work and Travel USA. Cross-Cultural Communication, 8(5), pp. 62-66.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

  Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Copyright © 1986 - 2017 by World Council for Curriculum and Instruction (WCCI)
ISSN 1562-0506