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Foreign students in Japan: A qualitative study of interpersonal relations between North American university exchange students and their Japanese hosts

Patrick Dean Burns, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation analyzes a study which focused on the problem of interpersonal relationship development between Japanese hosts and visiting North American exchange students during their one year of studying abroad at a Japanese university. The study identified and analyzed factors that contributed to, or inhibited social interaction which led to effective interpersonal relations. The research described and explained the interpersonal relationship development experience of the research participants. A qualitative interpretive case study, participants included both North American exchange students and Japanese people with whom they developed relationships. Data collection was accomplished over a one-year period utilizing in-depth interviewing and direct behavior observation methods. Results included identification of cross-cultural social-psychological factors which contributed to and inhibited effective interpersonal relationship development. An analysis of cultural value-orientation differences led to the explanation of problems in relationship development. The North American exchange students established cordial relationships with Japanese people and were overall very satisfied with the exchange program and their one-year experience. However, the study concluded that North American students were disappointed with the perceived shallowness of relationship development. This negatively impacted their cultural and language learning. Recommendations were made to study abroad administrators in Japan and North America, as well as to prospective North American exchange students and researchers. These recommendations were in the areas of cross-cultural understanding and orientation, programming, advising and recruitment, and future research efforts. These recommendations are designed to assist in enhancing relationship development effectiveness. The dissertation includes a review of study abroad research literature that focused on social interaction and interpersonal relations.

Subject Area

Higher education|Bilingual education|Multicultural education

Recommended Citation

Burns, Patrick Dean, "Foreign students in Japan: A qualitative study of interpersonal relations between North American university exchange students and their Japanese hosts" (1996). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9709577.