Master of Arts (MA)
Gina G Barker
Primary Subject Area
Psychology, General; Psychology, Social; Sociology, Social Structure and Development
adaptation, intercultural communication, interpersonal sensitivity, perception, social sensitivity, third culture
Lyttle, Allyn D., "Making Sense of Cultural Complexity: An Experimental Study of Third Culture Individuals’ Interpersonal Sensitivity as a Result of Intercultural Adaptation" (2009). Masters Theses. Paper 70.
This study examined third culture individuals, defined as people who lived in a country other than that of their nationality during their developmental years, seeking to determine a difference in interpersonal sensitivity between third culture individuals and mono-cultured persons. While popular literature asserts such specialized skills developed as a result of intercultural adaptation, this assertion has not been empirically supported. Data was collected using web-based surveys, which yielded a sample size of 142. The instrument measured participants' intercultural experience and interpersonal sensitivity in two classifications, emotional sensitivity and social sensitivity. Results showed third culture individuals as having significantly higher social sensitivity than mono-cultured individuals; however, mono-cultured individuals' self-reported aptitude for emotional sensitivity was significantly higher than that of the third culture sample. Additionally, no significant correlation was found between greater intercultural experience and heightened interpersonal sensitivity.