Past research encourages expatriates to immerse themselves in the host culture, avoiding reminders of their home culture. We counter that, for expatriates still struggling to adjust, home culture stimuli might prime a sense of relational security, emboldening them to reach out to locals and hence boost cultural adjustment. In Study 1, American exchange students in Hong Kong felt more adjusted to Hong Kong after incidental exposure to iconic American practices (vs. Chinese or neutral), an effect partially mediated by relational security and not by other exchange student concerns. Study 2 surveyed exchange students from Hong Kong at three points in time: before, during and after a study abroad term. The intervention of writing about home culture (vs. host culture) symbols during their trip helped adjustment for those with pre-trip insecurities about interacting with locals but not those lacking these insecurities. The boost in adjustment from the home culture primes had a lasting impact, visible in the post-trip evaluations of the study abroad experience by students in the initially insecure group.

Jeanne Ho-Ying Fu, Michael Morris, and Ying-Yi Hong
Journal Article
Publication Date
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Full Citation

Fu, Jeanne Ho-Ying, Michael Morris, and Ying-Yi Hong
. “A transformative taste of home: Home culture primes foster expatriates' adjustment through bolstering relational security.”
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
, (July 01, 2015):