Stories from IUP Student Scholars: Chiaothong Yong, Clinical Psychology, Shares Her Research on International Students

Posted on 2/23/2015 1:57:41 PM

Chiao-Thong Yong studies stress in international students at IUP

Most college students feel stressed when leaving home for college, but a research study conducted by IUP Clinical Psychology graduate student Chiaothong Yong indicates that international students may be feeling increased pressures. Yong’s research was presented last year at the IUP Graduate Scholars Forum, and she is continuing her research this year.

Yong’s research pointed out that international students have the increased pressures of culture shock, language barriers, insomnia, adapting to new food and housing, and financial issues. As a result, she explained, international students are at a higher risk of facing psychological issues than domestic students.

The small sample group was given two tests, one in English and one in their native language. The questionnaire asked students about their feelings of depression, thoughts of suicide, substance abuse, and feelings of anxiety.

Yong’s hypothesis was that international students (primarily Chinese-speaking students) would be more forthcoming about their stress when given a questionnaire in Chinese since they would be more at ease with their native language. Interestingly, though, she discovered Chinese students were more likely to reveal their psychological issues in the English questionnaire.

Yong speculated that due to the Chinese culture of preserving dignity, often referred to as saving face, students may have felt safer to reveal their problems in the English screening. “In traditional Chinese culture, it’s important that you don’t show your weaknesses to others,” she said.

However, Yong said due to the small sample group, the screenings may not have presented completely accurate results. She said there is also the possibility that students were over-reporting their issues and stresses.

Yong is continuing her research this year by replicating the tests at various universities outside IUP, broadening the amount of students tested, and expanding the number of ethnic groups tested.

(Story compiled and written by Beth Koop, media relations assistant)