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Multicultural Personality Questionnaire (MPQ)

The student population of European universities is increasingly diverse, both as a result of increasing numbers of students with a first- second or third generation migration background, and as result of internationalization of higher education across Europe.

Universities in the Aurora network actively strive to use the diversity amongst their student population as a tool for excellence in education. We regard it as crucial to develop the intercultural competencies of our students, because future academics in contemporary societies need to be able to function effectively both as citizen and as professional in a diversifying and globalizing  context.

The MPQ  (Van der Zee & Van Oudenhoven, 2000, 2001) has been developed as an instrument to measure five intercultural competencies:

  • Cultural empathy refers to empathizing with the feelings, thoughts,   and behaviors of individuals from a different culture.
  • Open-mindedness reflects an open and unprejudiced attitude toward cultural differences.
  • Social initiative refers to a tendency to actively approach social situations.
  • Emotional stability reflects an ability to stay calm under novel and stressful conditions
  • Flexibility refers to interpreting novel situations as a positive challenge and adapting to these situations accordingly.

Main deliverables

In the proposed project we aim to further test and develop the MPQ for application in a university context among students. Final aim is to be able to diagnose students’ intercultural skills, as a basis for further development. We aim at a four year project, with 3 phases:

  • Phase 1: test the internal validity of the scales among large student samples from the 10 institutions, examine effects of age, gender, national background, earlier international experience and its relationship with other indicators of intercultural effectiveness. This phase may lead to adjustments in the instrument leading to an MPQ-s (student version)
  • Phase 2: test the external validity of the scales in different ways:
    • Examining the scores across different groups of students (e.g. international programs versus national programs) as well as across institutions (1);
    • Examining the development of scores over time (2);
    • Relating scales scores to success during international leaves of students (3);
    • Relating scale scores to concrete behaviors in the international classroom (4);
    • Measuring developments in scale scores as a result of training (5).
  • Phase 3: developing an (partially online) intercultural training method that fits the five concepts [1] (5).

[1] Different institutions use different training methods for developing their students

Estimated time line

Pilot phase:  march 2018 – august 2018

September 2018 – September 2022:  time frame below

Table 1 Time frame

Year Aims
1 –        Development of online version of the questionnaire available to students from the 10 institutions

–        Phase 1 (internal validity)

–        Phase 2, 2.1 (comparison across groups)

2 –        Phase 2, 2.2-2.3 (comparison over time and international leave)
3 –        Phase 2, 2.4-2.5 (international classroom and training)
4 –        Phase 3 (development and evaluation of training)


Upcoming events and milestone dates

  • March starting date pilot phase
  • September 2018 starting date implementation
  • Autumn 2019 presentation of first results
  • Autumn 2022 conference on entire projec



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