Abstract – Perceptions of Personality in Third Culture Kids

Last fall I returned to the United States after living overseas for seventeen years.  This experience, while unusual, is not unique. In fact, there is a term for people like me- “third culture kids.” A third culture kid is “someone who, as a child, has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture” (Pollock 2009).

My project aims to investigate the way third culture kids’ experiences have shaped their views of themselves and others.  To explore this question, I will conduct a survey of third culture kids and non third culture kids.  This survey will gauge how much participants value the Big Five traits (extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness), as well as how much they believe themselves to exhibit these traits.  The first group surveyed will be made up of students at my high school in Geneva, Switzerland.  Participants in the second group will be reached through a third culture kids research website.  For the third group I will survey incoming freshmen at William & Mary in the fall.  I will analyze my data using SPSS, a statistics program for social sciences.  I predict that third culture kid’s perceptions of their own personalities will differ from non third culture kids and that the groups will value different traits.