Social support benefits psychological adjustment of international students

Evidence from a meta-analysis

Michael Bender*, Y.M.J. van Osch, Willem Sleegers, Mengyu Ye

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

A growing body of literature is exploring the link between social support and international students’ psychological adjustment. So far, however, there has been no systematic assessment of the overall relationship, and no indication which types and sources of social support may be most strongly associated with psychological adjustment. Our meta-analysis of 257 effect sizes across 76 studies fills this gap and assesses (1) the magnitude of the overall association between social support and international students’ psychological adjustment, (2) how different types (subjective, objective, and mixed) and sources (host, conational, international, mixed, and unspecified) of social support moderate the relationship between social support and psychological adjustment, and (3) whether the relationship between social support and psychological adjustment holds across different operationalizations of psychological adjustment. We find a positive overall association (r = .20, 95% CI [.16, .23]) between social support and international students’ psychological adjustment. Types and sources of social support matter as well: Subjective social support relates more strongly to psychological adjustment than objective social support. The data revealed that only support from mixed sources (i.e., not distinguishing between internationals, host, or conationals) is associated with a stronger effect of social support than support from conationals or from fellow international students (compared to support from host sources). We find no differences in the relation between social support and positive or negative adjustment. We outline recommendations for future research based on the meta-analysis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019

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@article{c5a65b293cb046889f6ce2fd4f692ed2,
title = "Social support benefits psychological adjustment of international students: Evidence from a meta-analysis",
abstract = "A growing body of literature is exploring the link between social support and international students’ psychological adjustment. So far, however, there has been no systematic assessment of the overall relationship, and no indication which types and sources of social support may be most strongly associated with psychological adjustment. Our meta-analysis of 257 effect sizes across 76 studies fills this gap and assesses (1) the magnitude of the overall association between social support and international students’ psychological adjustment, (2) how different types (subjective, objective, and mixed) and sources (host, conational, international, mixed, and unspecified) of social support moderate the relationship between social support and psychological adjustment, and (3) whether the relationship between social support and psychological adjustment holds across different operationalizations of psychological adjustment. We find a positive overall association (r = .20, 95{\%} CI [.16, .23]) between social support and international students’ psychological adjustment. Types and sources of social support matter as well: Subjective social support relates more strongly to psychological adjustment than objective social support. The data revealed that only support from mixed sources (i.e., not distinguishing between internationals, host, or conationals) is associated with a stronger effect of social support than support from conationals or from fellow international students (compared to support from host sources). We find no differences in the relation between social support and positive or negative adjustment. We outline recommendations for future research based on the meta-analysis.",
author = "Michael Bender and {van Osch}, Y.M.J. and Willem Sleegers and Mengyu Ye",
year = "2019",
language = "English",
journal = "Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology",
issn = "0022-0221",
publisher = "Sage Publications, Inc.",

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T2 - Evidence from a meta-analysis

AU - Bender, Michael

AU - van Osch, Y.M.J.

AU - Sleegers, Willem

AU - Ye, Mengyu

PY - 2019

Y1 - 2019

N2 - A growing body of literature is exploring the link between social support and international students’ psychological adjustment. So far, however, there has been no systematic assessment of the overall relationship, and no indication which types and sources of social support may be most strongly associated with psychological adjustment. Our meta-analysis of 257 effect sizes across 76 studies fills this gap and assesses (1) the magnitude of the overall association between social support and international students’ psychological adjustment, (2) how different types (subjective, objective, and mixed) and sources (host, conational, international, mixed, and unspecified) of social support moderate the relationship between social support and psychological adjustment, and (3) whether the relationship between social support and psychological adjustment holds across different operationalizations of psychological adjustment. We find a positive overall association (r = .20, 95% CI [.16, .23]) between social support and international students’ psychological adjustment. Types and sources of social support matter as well: Subjective social support relates more strongly to psychological adjustment than objective social support. The data revealed that only support from mixed sources (i.e., not distinguishing between internationals, host, or conationals) is associated with a stronger effect of social support than support from conationals or from fellow international students (compared to support from host sources). We find no differences in the relation between social support and positive or negative adjustment. We outline recommendations for future research based on the meta-analysis.

AB - A growing body of literature is exploring the link between social support and international students’ psychological adjustment. So far, however, there has been no systematic assessment of the overall relationship, and no indication which types and sources of social support may be most strongly associated with psychological adjustment. Our meta-analysis of 257 effect sizes across 76 studies fills this gap and assesses (1) the magnitude of the overall association between social support and international students’ psychological adjustment, (2) how different types (subjective, objective, and mixed) and sources (host, conational, international, mixed, and unspecified) of social support moderate the relationship between social support and psychological adjustment, and (3) whether the relationship between social support and psychological adjustment holds across different operationalizations of psychological adjustment. We find a positive overall association (r = .20, 95% CI [.16, .23]) between social support and international students’ psychological adjustment. Types and sources of social support matter as well: Subjective social support relates more strongly to psychological adjustment than objective social support. The data revealed that only support from mixed sources (i.e., not distinguishing between internationals, host, or conationals) is associated with a stronger effect of social support than support from conationals or from fellow international students (compared to support from host sources). We find no differences in the relation between social support and positive or negative adjustment. We outline recommendations for future research based on the meta-analysis.

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JO - Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology

JF - Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology

SN - 0022-0221

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