Toward a concept of a migrant personality

7126 mots 29 pages
Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 57, No. 3, 2001, pp. 477–491

Toward a Concept of a Migrant Personality
Bonka S. Boneva* and Irene Hanson Frieze
University of Pittsburgh

In this article we argue that individuals who want to emigrate possess a syndrome of personality characteristics that differentiates them from those who want to stay in their country of origin. Based on our own research, as well as other research findings, we show that those who want to resettle in another country tend to be more work-oriented and to have higher achievement and power motivation, but lower affiliation motivation and family centrality, than those who do not want to leave their country of origin. This migrant personality syndrome is seen as only one of the variety of factors that determine migratory behavior. We further discuss some of the possible implications of our findings for the receiving and the sending countries and possible psychological interventions that can ease the acculturation of immigrants. A satisfactory theoretical and methodological account of international migration should consider the motivations, goals, values, and aspirations of individuals who decide to resettle in another country (Gans, 1999; Massey, 1999). Is there a set of motives, values, and traits that characterize the personalities of people who emigrate? In this article, we argue that desire to emigrate is associated with a specific set of personality characteristics that differentiates people who want to emigrate from people who want to stay in their country of origin. We propose a model of the personality factors that predict desire to emigrate. Further, we discuss our previous findings that, indeed, across six cultures, desire to emigrate, compared to desire to stay, was associated with significantly higher achievement, power motivation, and work centrality and lower family centrality. Research on international migration has consistently shown that economic factors play an important role in the

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