The Emergence and Volatility of Homesickness in Exchange Students Abroad: A Smartphone-Based Longitudinal Study

Friedrich M. Götz*, Stefan Stieger, Ulf Dietrich Reips

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

8 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research on the determinants of homesickness has tended to produce inconsistent results and relied mostly on cross-sectional assessments. To capture the longitudinal perspective, we conducted a smartphone app-based study, monitoring the emergence and volatility of homesickness in international university exchange students (n = 148). Applying an experience sampling method (ESM), homesickness was measured every second day over a period of 3 months followed by a post hoc questionnaire to assess potential moderators. Multilevel modeling revealed that whereas age, Extraversion, Conscientiousness, Openness to Experience, voluntariness, previous stays abroad, support from host university, geographical distance, co- and host national identification, language proficiency, and pre-data collection duration of stay did not yield any effects, being male, scoring high on Neuroticism as well as Agreeableness, having difficulties in sociocultural adaptation, and being at the beginning of the stay (as opposed to later on) were related to higher levels of homesickness. Corroborating the latter finding, curve estimation regression analyses showed that homesickness normally peaks immediately after relocation and fades away afterward. Together with the low overall intensities of homesickness found in the present sample, the results suggest that homesickness is a common but mild adverse by-product of international student mobility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-716
Number of pages28
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2019


  • environmental psychology
  • experience sampling
  • homesickness
  • international student mobility
  • multilevel modeling
  • science apps
  • temporary settlement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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