PIRATS - Personality, Identity, and Relationship Experiences in Adolescent Trajectories

DFG Project by Henriette Greischel, Franz J. Neyer & Peter Noack​

The Project

The PIRATS study is a research project of the Department of Differential Psychology, Personality Psychology, and Psychological Assessment at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena to study personality and identity development, as well as changes in social relationships during adolescence.

The significance of international mobility experiences in educational contexts has steadily increased in recent years. In the school year 2015/2016, for example, about 17,500 adolescents participated in a high school exchange year. However, psychological conditions and consequences of international mobility formed the focus of the PIRATS study. A prospective control group design was implemented, which allowed a comparison of the developmental trajectories of mobile and non-mobile adolescents at 5 measurements over a period of 18 months. An entire cohort (2013/2014) of one of the largest German youth exchange organizations (AFS Interkulturelle Begegnungen e.V.) was invited to participate in the survey. Initial studies were conducted using data from approximately 500 exchange students and 300 non-mobile students who were on average 15-16 years old.

Preliminary results suggest that both groups differ with respect to important personality traits. For example, exchange students were more agreeable, more extraverted, and less neurotic than their peers before going abroad. During the course of the exchange experience, we observed a catalyzing effect of the stay abroad on adolescents' development. Changes in important social relationships, such as toward one's own parents, influenced the impact of the mobility experience on personality and identity development. These findings emphasize the significance of international mobility experiences for adolescents' personal and social development already at a relatively early stage in life.


Greischel, H., Noack, P., & Neyer, F. J. (2017). Oh, the Places You'll Go! How International Mobility Challenges Identity Development in Adolescence. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Greischel, H., Noack, P., & Neyer, F. J. (2017). Finding Myself Abroad: Adolescent Identity Processes and Sociocultural Adaptation During Intercultural Transitions. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Greischel, H., Noack, P., & Neyer, F. J. (2016). Sailing Uncharted Waters: Adolescent Personality Development and Social Relationship Experiences During a Year Abroad. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45(11), 2307-2320. doi: 10.1007/s10964-016-0479-1External link