Personality differs from person to person, and it is also influenced by many different factors over time, such as genetics, experience, biology, and the area you live in. As time goes on, everyone’s personality changes, and this is a natural change due to age and our day to day experiences. It’s normal, and doesn’t mean you’re changing for the worst.
Despite that, just how does extended travel affect personality?
Everyone is open to new experiences to a different degree, e.g. someone who is shy may not be as open as someone who is massively extroverted. How open you are to experience will depend on what you do with your life. Travel opens our eyes up to new experiences, new places, new cultures, and of course, we meet new people. This all adds to our memory bank, and everyone knows that what happens to us, and our memories, affects the person we are. Bad experiences make us stronger, good experiences make us more hopeful.
This may all sound a little deep and meaningful, but it is going somewhere.
A recent study by Julia Zimmermann and Franz Neyer in Germany attempted to understand the effects of extended travel on personality. A controlled study was done, consisting of two groups of students. The first group studied abroad for a period of time, whilst the other group stayed at home for the same length of time, and studied in their own surroundings, with their usual group of friends, and everyday experiences. The results were unsurprising.
The group who headed off to see the world and learn saw changes in their general personality, becoming more extroverted, open to experience, and showed higher levels of emotional stability. On the other hand, the group who stayed put showed lower levels of the same.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see why this is really – when we travel, we meet lots of different people, and extended travel means we are totally out of our comfort zone, forced to fend for ourselves in situations we probably would never come into contact with otherwise. This makes us stronger emotionally, and also forces us to be independent in a higher degree. Travel for a long period of time also breeds tolerance and helps us learn about new cultures and religions.
Experiences and new people change us – it’s that simple. So in answer to the original question, does extended travel affect personality? Yes it does, and definitely for the better.