Send to

Choose Destination
J Pers Soc Psychol. 2017 Jan;112(1):1-16. doi: 10.1037/pspa0000068.

The dark side of going abroad: How broad foreign experiences increase immoral behavior.

Author information

Columbia Business School, Columbia University.
Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
Harvard Business School, Harvard University.
Department of Psychology, Boston College.
Organisational Behaviour Area, INSEAD.


Because of the unprecedented pace of globalization, foreign experiences are increasingly common and valued. Past research has focused on the benefits of foreign experiences, including enhanced creativity and reduced intergroup bias. In contrast, the present work uncovers a potential dark side of foreign experiences: increased immoral behavior. We propose that broad foreign experiences (i.e., experiences in multiple foreign countries) foster not only cognitive flexibility but also moral flexibility. Using multiple methods (longitudinal, correlational, and experimental), 8 studies (N > 2,200) establish that broad foreign experiences can lead to immoral behavior by increasing moral relativism-the belief that morality is relative rather than absolute. The relationship between broad foreign experiences and immoral behavior was robust across a variety of cultural populations (anglophone, francophone), life stages (high school students, university students, MBA students, middle-aged adults), and 7 different measures of immorality. As individuals are exposed to diverse cultures, their moral compass may lose some of its precision. (PsycINFO Database Record.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Psychological Association
Loading ...
Support Center