Macquarie University
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Musical predictors of acculturation and adaptation by international students in Australia

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posted on 2022-11-02, 01:05 authored by Yixue Quan

When studying abroad, international students may or may not successfully adapt to the host society. Previous studies suggest that positive adaptation is generally associated with openness to experience and cultural values that align with the host culture. However, a person’s musical inclinations may also predict international students’ adaptation to new societies, given that music is a cultural medium that connects people of different backgrounds. This thesis examined whether two aspects of music listening behaviour – world music openearedness and uses of music – predict international students' psychological and sociocultural adaptation to Australian society. World music open-earedness refers to a willingness to explore, listen to, tolerate, and learn about music from diverse cultures. It was assessed by surveying people about 21 music excerpts from seven geographic regions. Uses of music refer to the goals of music listening and include using music to manage or optimize: (a) mood and emotion; (b) arousal and activation; (c) communication; (d) self-reflection; and (e) cultural expression. 77 international students in Australia (54 females, mean age=24.83 years) completed an online survey. To control the influence of demographics, personality, and cultural values on adaptation outcomes, hierarchical regressions and model reductions with AIC backward elimination were conducted. Results showed that international students with higher tolerance to world music had greater levels of psychological adaptation, after demographic data, personality, and collectivist values were controlled. High world music open-earedness was associated with fewer difficulties in sociocultural adaptation. Among the five uses of music, using music for communication and self-reflection were positively related to psychological adaptation. Mechanisms that account for these associations, and implications for identifying at-risk international students, are discussed. New music programs are also proposed to enhance the cultural experiences of international students in Australia. The current findings demonstrate that the power of music is far more than just aesthetic enjoyment and may even help people adjust to new societies. 


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. Literature review -- 3. Methods -- 4. Results -- 5. Discussion -- References -- Appendix A Questionnaire -- Appendix B Participant informed consent form -- Appendix C Correlations between control variables, open-earedness, and adaptation outcomes -- Appendix D Correlations between control variables, uses of music, and adaptation outcomes -- Appendix E Corrrelations between personality, collectivist values, open-earedness, and adaptation outcomes -- Appendix F Correlations between personality, collectivist values, uses of music, and adaptation outcomes -- Appendix G Ethics approval letter


A thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Research

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Psychology, 2021

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

William Forde Thompson

Additional Supervisor 1

Kirk N. Olsen


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




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