This chapter was to review the literatures of each term, including cultural intelligence, psychological well-being, mindfulness and social support. Meanwhile, the relationships among them were discussed.
Research related to well-being is abundant. The definitions are also very diversified.
Suranyi-Unger (1981, p.132) described the diversity of well-being as:
At one extreme, individual well-being can be expressed in physical and biological terms;
at the other extreme, it can be viewed as a state of happiness... Between the two extreme notions of individual well-being lies a multitude of other criteria, such as income and wealth, social position, the Maslowian hierarchy of accomplishments, personal power, spiritual or ideological achievement, and many others.
The earliest research began in the 1950s. Well-being is a concept that is used in many different situations and for different purposes. There are many ways to define well-being.
Researchers defined it directly or indirectly, subjectively or objectively, and generally or domain-specifically (Paim, 1995) and the selection of the definition depends on the purpose of each study. On the purpose of improving social policy through observing society, some researchers set up the indicators for quality of life. For example, gender, educational level, age, and social status are used to indicate subjective well-being (Andrew & Withey, 1976). However, only using demographical indicators seems not enough for researching overall well-being.
Researchers started to keep an eye on individuals’ psychological and cognitive conditions, like personality and life satisfaction (Taylor & Brown, 1994).
Through the development of the research on well-being, Diener (1984) addressed that
well-being is an individual subjective feeling, so-called “Subjective Well-Being.” It encompasses individuals’ longer-term levels of pleasant effect, lack of unpleasant effect and life satisfaction. And it is an individual’s evaluation of his or her quality of life overall. Besides, Lin, Lu, Wu and Wu (2012) proposed that to assess an individual’s well-being it is necessary to measure his or her overall life.
While the construct of subjective well-being was described as a feeling dimension (feeling good, contentment), functioning dimension (fully functioning, living well, and self-actualization of one’s potential) was used to describe construct of another definition of well-being, psychological well-being (Deci & Ryan, 2008; Ryff & Singer, 2008). According to Ryff and Singer (2008), what constitutes the core dimension of psychological well-being is positive relation, autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, purpose of life and self-acceptance.
Positive relations mean that individuals perceive they have trusting interpersonal and warm relations with other people. They also have strong feelings of empathy and affection toward people.
Autonomy refers to independence, regulation of oneself and self-determination. An autonomous person is independent and he or she does not seek approval from others. They are able to evaluate themselves on their own standards.
Environmental mastery is the ability to choose or create an environment that fits an individual’s psychological condition. They are able to manipulate the environment and control where they are in to fit their mental condition.
Personal growth can be explained as individuals’ perception of keep developing themselves. As for becoming a fully functioning person, being open to new experiences, growing and expanding ourselves are crucial for individuals to get this goal.
Purpose of life means that an individual is able to know what they are doing for their life,
that is, the meaning of their own life. It focuses on whether individuals own a sense of directedness and intentionality.
Self-acceptance is that individuals have feeling of satisfaction with their self. Also, they are capable of holding positive attitudes toward their self regardless of deficiency.
The definition of psychological well-being and its six dimensions were used in this study to measure and to examine students’ psychological well-being when they are going through the process of cross cultural adaptation.
Earley and Ang (2003) introduced the term cultural intelligence (CQ). Cultural intelligence refers to the “ability to adapt across cultures, and it reflects a person’s capability to gather interpret, and act upon radically different cues to function effectively across cultural setting or in multicultural situations” (p.59). Earley and Ang (2003) explained that cultural intelligence encompassed internal and external perspective of intelligence. This theory was built on different subfields of intelligence, like psychometric, behavioral, and contextual, through taking numerous theories (Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence, Ceci’s bioecological theory of intelligence and Sternberg’s theory of triarchic intelligences) as reference. Cultural Intelligence focuses on the interaction between individual and the environment. The context is crucial for an individual when it comes to getting adaptive to the environment. Therefore, cultural intelligence covers internal and external perspectives of intelligences. It includes individual’s intelligences that are related to functions of cognition, metacognition, motivation and behavior (Earley & Ang, 2003).
Socializing individuals are able to react well in their original cultural background context.
However, when they step into another unfamiliar culture, it is the time when cultural intelligence plays an important role. Lacking the familiar cues in a new culture, there is no
frame to rely on for individuals. Thus, individuals have to cultivate a new frame of the new environment so that they are able to get the new environmental cues helping them to react appropriately. Individuals having higher CQ are capable of acquiring new behaviors based on the new environment needs (Earley & Ang, 2003).
Cultural intelligence was conceptualized as multidimensional construct with CQ knowledge, CQ strategy, CQ drive, and CQ action, usually referenced in the research as mental (cognitive and metacognitive), motivational, and behavioral CQ. Figure 2.1 is the CQ composition (Livermore, 2010):
Figure 2.1. The four dimensional model of cultural intelligence. Source: “Leading with cultural intelligence: The new secret to success,” by D. Livermore, 2010, p.25. Copyright 2010 by D. Livermore.
CQ knowledge (cognitive CQ) is about the knowledge of the culture and the understanding of how things are done in this cultural context. It has two sub-dimensions:
cultural systems and cultural norms and values. Cultural system is the way the society operates to meet members’ basic needs. Besides, cultural norms and values refer to the different ways each culture deals with issues like authority, and relationships among members. CQ Strategy (metacognitive CQ) is namely how individuals use their understanding of the culture to plan
the strategy. It has three dimensions: awareness, planning and checking. Awareness means having good understanding of what is going on in oneself and others. Planning and checking refer to taking time to prepare for and monitor the cross cultural encounter. CQ drive (motivational CQ) is individuals’ interest and confidence in adjusting themselves into cross cultural environment. Intrinsic motivation (enjoyment from culturally diverse situations an individual feels internally), extrinsic motivation (tangible benefits from culturally diverse situations an individual gets), and self-efficacy (the confidence an individual has to deal with culturally diverse situations effectively). CQ Action (behavioral CQ) means the ability to act appropriately in cross cultural situations. The actions include verbal, nonverbal and speech acts (the exact words and phrases we use when we communicate specific types of messages). Four dimensions are essential altogether when it comes to the benefits of cultural intelligence (Livermore, 2010). Livermore (2010) also suggested that CQ can be developed by following the acquirement of CQ four dimensions: CQ drive, CQ knowledge, CQ strategy and then, CQ action.
Kelley and Meyers (1995) define cross cultural adaptability as the ability to get adaptive to and function well in other cultures. The concept of cross cultural adaptability is similar to cultural intelligence which refers to the capability to function effectively across countries, namely across different cultures (Earley & Ang, 2003). Also, the relationship between cross cultural adaptability and the well-being has also been discussed. A positive correlation exists between adaptability and well-being (Maggiori, Johnston, Krings, Massoudi, & Rossier, 2013).
Two studies whose participants were all international students were used to discuss Cross Cultural Adaptability Inventory (Ward, Berno, & Main, 2000). The four constructs, Emotional Resilience (ER), Flexibility/Openness (FO), Perceptual Acuity (PAC), and Personal Autonomy (PA), assessed by CCAI were reported as being related to the psychological and sociocultural context. One study indicated that ER and FO were related to psychological and sociocultural
adaption problems, while PAC and PA were associated with fewer sociocultural difficulties.
And in the second study, ER was identified to be the strongest predictor of psychological well-being and PAC was a critical factor in sociocultural adaptation. As above, this study treats the cross cultural adaptability as a similar concept with cultural intelligence.
The definition of cultural intelligence, student’s ability that is important for getting adaptive to new cultures, was used in this study.
International Students and Cross Cultural Adaptation
Due to the gradual and significant increase of international students, many scholars have researched many relevant aspects. One factor that encouraged students to depart to other countries to study is motivation. The motivation comes from the outcomes of studying abroad, namely what students can get from cross cultural studying experiences. Potential outcomes include intercultural competence, global perspectives, personal identity development, language proficiency enhancement and intellectual development (Twombly, Salisbury, Tumanut, &
Klute, 2012). However, confronting a life transition and different educational system can be overwhelming for international students (Olivas & Li, 2006; Zhai, 2002). A study discovered that students learning results were significantly influenced by emotional or stress-related problem in their life abroad. That is to say, feeling and functioning well are crucial for international students in order to get what they want during the school year abroad (Hyun et al., 2007). Meanwhile, understanding about cross cultural adaptation or adjustment is also important for them.
U-Curve Theory states that an individual’s cross cultural adjustment process runs through four stages. First, honeymoon stage is the initial stage. Individuals are curious and excited about the new environment they get into. Second, in the culture shock stage, they start to get trouble when dealing with foreign people’s different norms, perspectives, value, etc. Third, they find
out a way to get adaptive to the foreign country and begin to feel involved in the adjustment stage. And fourth, they acquire the ability to function effectively in the new culture environment. This is called mastery stage (Black & Mendenhall, 1991). Figure 2.2 shows the relationship between the degree of adjustment and the time in months during these stages. It is shown that the adjustment stage begins after 6 months. Therefore, international students’
condition can be expected to get stable after half of a year abroad.
Figure 2.2. The U-curve of cross cultural adjustment. Source: “The u-curve adjustment hypothesis revisited: A review and theoretical framework,” by J. Black and M. Mendenhall.
1991, Journal of International Business Studies, 22(2), p. 227. Copyright 1991 by Palgrave Macmillan Journals.
Hanh (1976) defined the term mindfulness is keeping one’s consciousness alive to the present reality. Moreover, Brown and Ryan (2003) defined consciousness includes both awareness and attention. Consciousness is a mode of mental processing that helps individuals to operate effectively. It was addressed by Westen (1999) that it is composed by awareness and attention. Awareness serves as a background radar of consciousness, paying attention to the inside and outside part. Furthermore, attention is the focus of conscious awareness. Bodhi (2000) thought of mindfulness as “bare attention”, which means that we pay attention without conditioned emotional reaction, evaluation and judgments. Kabat-Zinn (2003) and Shapiro, Carlson, Astin and Freedman (2006) also pointed out that mindfulness is when individuals pay his or her attention to the present in an accepting and nonjudgmental way. Moreover, researchers explained mindfulness with three concepts: intention, attention and attitude.
Intention is related to the reason you pay attention; attention is that knowing what really is happening; and attitude is how you act toward the attention (Shapiro et al., 2006).
Therefore, mindfulness is the awareness emerging during the process of being intent, attentive, and reaction (attitude) together to engage what is happening in the present. This definition was used in this study.
Dean and Lin (1977) pointed out that there is no consensus of what social support is in literatures. For instance, three components of social support have been described. They are: (1) information that an individual is cared for and loved, (2) information that an individual is esteemed and valued, and (3) information that an individual belongs to a network of communication and mutual obligation (Cobb, 1976). Social support is concern, love, respect, or values that were served as hidden message from others (Kim et al., 2008). It can also be
defined as a subjective feeling that one would get from others when he or she is having a hard time (DeLongis & Holtzman, 2015). Regardless of the differences in definitions, social support was approved to have therapeutic value in mental and physical health, which are related to psychological well-being (Pearson, 1986). Hirsch (1980) also pointed out the high correlation between social support system, that is, friends and family, and mental health. Social support also helps to increase individuals’ self-esteem and the feeling of control, and this help finally results in the enhancement of psychological conditions (Pearlin, Lieberman, Menaghan, &
Cultural Intelligence and Psychological Well-Being
There are several studies discussing adaptability as an antecedent of well-being, and all had similar result. That is, adaptability is related to psychological well-being (Stoltz et al., 2013;
Wang et al., 2011). Besides, cross cultural adaptability which is similar with cultural intelligence was related to psychological well-being (Kelley & Meyers, 1995). Therefore, by the similarity shared between the cross cultural adaptability and cultural intelligence, this study builds the following hypothesis:
Students’ cultural intelligence is positively related to their psychological well-being when studying abroad.
The Role of Mindfulness as a Moderator
Researchers pointed out the benefits that mindfulness attention and awareness bring are the direct proves for the relationship mindfulness-cultivating process and positive psychological and physical results (Kabat-Zinn, 1990; Shapiro, Schwartz, & Bonner, 1998).
Researchers reported that the enhancement of well-being caused by mindfulness is related to the higher quality or optimal experiences in the present. LeBel and Dubé (2001) made an
experiment and found out that when individuals are eating chocolate, those who pay attention to the sensory experiences of eating are reported more joyful than those who simultaneously have other tasks to work with. What’s more, Csikszentmihalyi (1990) defined flow activities as a mental state of operation where participants fully engage with and pay attention to what is occurring, and these activities yield considerable enjoyment.
In addition, a number of theories about self-regulation discuss the place of attention and awareness in the enhancement of psychological and behavioural functioning as well. For example, Self Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2000) asserts that an open awareness is considered valuable when an individual chooses behaviors that are aligned with one’s needs, values, and interests; on the contrary, individuals processing automatically or under control often preclude considerations of options that would be more aligned with needs and values (Deci & Ryan, 1980; Ryan, Kuhl, & Deci, 1997). That is, through self-regulated activities and fulfillment of the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, mindfulness may facilitate well-being (Hodgins & Knee, 2002).
As above, when individuals fulfill their competence or execute some self-regulated activities, mindfulness may play a moderating role which results in the enhancement of well-being.
Therefore, this study builds the following hypothesis.
Mindfulness positively strengthens the relationship between cultural intelligence and psychological well-being.
Mindfulness positively strengthens the relationship between cultural intelligence and six sub-dimensions of psychological well-being.
The Role of Social Support as a Moderator
Social support has direct influence on individuals’ emotional health and well-being in a beneficial way. For example, social support has more effect of enhancing health when an individual faces time of high stress (Dean, Kolody, & Wood, 1990; Reinhardt, 1996; Wills 1985). This was also confirmed by previous studies which concluded that social support has a direct influence on psychological health by reducing the risk of mental disease, and simultaneously increasing the psychological well-being (Cohen & Wills, 1985; Hogan, Linden,
& Najarian, 2002; Seeman, 2000). There are a number of literatures discussing the relationship between social support and mental health, especially testing and verifying the beneficial and moderating effects of social support (Berkman, Glass, Brissette, & Seeman, 2000; Escribà-Agüir, Ruiz-Pérez, & Montero-Piñar, 2010). Besides, certain studies have noted that the effect of social support has on psychological well-being is mainly from how individuals perceive rather than what individuals actually get (Wethington & Kessler, 1986).
Social support, for adolescent and the elder, has been pointed out as an essential factor influencing quality of life and well-being in Western societies and China as well. For adults, social contact can help them acquire more chances and keep a positive emotional state (Ross, Mirowsky, & Goldsteen, 1990; Lin, 1999). What’s more, Mechanic (1976) described that social support can be viewed as an intervening factor when an individual is running through his or her process of getting adaptive to the new environment. Therefore, this study builds the following hypothesis.
Social support positively strengthens the relationship between cultural intelligence and psychological well-being.
18 Hypothesis 3-1:
Social support positively strengthens the relationship between cultural intelligence and six sub-dimensions of psychological well-being.
By reviewing several previous literatures, four variables - cultural intelligence, psychological well-being with its six sub-dimensions, mindfulness and social support - were reviewed. Meanwhile, hypotheses of the relationship between cultural intelligence and psychological well-being and the potential moderating effects of mindfulness and social support in this relationship were developed. Next chapter would go further into the research framework, questions, samples, and instruments elaboration. Research process, data collection and analysis introduction were included as well.