To study the effect of a controlled stressor on the rate of personality maturity.
Eighteen-month prospective controlled study.
Experimental: Exposed to the stress of 12 months' intercultural experience. Control: Remained in usual environment.
Main Outcome Measure:
A measure of personality vulnerability/maturity derived from a canonical correlational combination of trait anxiety, locus of control, and defense style.
Exchange students exposed to the stressor made significantly greater gains in personality maturity (0.28 vs 0.03 SD: P≤.01) than did the control students matched on this measure at baseline.
Exchange students exposed to the stress of living abroad showed a substantial decrease in vulnerability, which should decrease the risk of future neurotic disorders in this group