Find yourself abroad

Moving to a foreign country gives you a stronger sense of self.

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According to new research published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, living in a foreign country increases your sense of self, or your understanding of your personal goals, values, and morals.

“Our findings suggest that the longer people live abroad, the stronger the effect,” says study author Hajo Adam, Ph.D., an assistant professor of management at Rice University in Houston. Moving to a country where people do things differently encourages you to question your beliefs and customs, he explains. This can help you hold on to the behaviors that align with your core values and weed out those that simply reflect your home country’s norms.

While past research shows that challenges like divorce and job loss can lower your self-clarity, Adam’s study suggests that “transitional experiences that are seen as positive and exciting can lead to a clearer sense of self.”


This opportunity doesn’t come along every day, but if you’re given the option to relocate to another country (even temporarily), it may be a chance worth taking. Moving to a different state could have similar benefits, Adam says.

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