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Int J Psychol. 2013;48(3):215-23. doi: 10.1080/00207594.2011.648942. Epub 2012 Mar 13.

Chinese students in Japan: the mediator and the moderator between their personality and mental health.

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Department of Psychology, Ochanomizu University, Tokyo, Japan.


To clarify the influence of personality traits on the psychological acculturation of Chinese international students in Japan, the present study used three structuring questions: (a) What personality trait makes the students vulnerable to psychological distress? (b) What mediates between personality and psychological distress? (c) What buffers personality from psychological distress? The study examined personality traits (Harm-Avoidance, HA; and Self-Directedness, SD; two dimensions of the Temperament and Character Inventory), acculturation attitudes (integration, assimilation, separation, and marginalization), and the mental health (General Health Questionnaire (GHQ)-30) of 253 Chinese students in Japan (17-30 years of age) using self-report questionnaires. The hypotheses are: For the Chinese international students in Japan, (a) the individuals with high HA or low SD are more vulnerable to psychological distress; (b) the acculturation strategy mediates between personality (HA/SD) and mental health (GHQ); (c) social support can moderate the effect of personality on acculturation adaptation. The results show that the Chinese international students in Japan had higher GHQ scores compared to normative standards, and marginalization (a less adaptive strategy) was their second most preferred acculturation strategy, next to integration. Individuals with high HA or low SD were more likely to have a marginalization attitude and suffer from more psychological distress. The mediation effect of marginalization and the moderation effect of social support in life (SSL) between HA/SD and GHQ were confirmed. Most of the hypotheses were supported by the results. Explanations of these findings and their implication for acculturation adaptation are discussed.

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