Psychological individual differences as predictors of refugees’ local language proficiency

Dan Asfar*, Marise Ph Born, Janneke K. Oostrom, Mark van Vugt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Learning the local language is important for the successful integration of immigrants. Previous research has identified a number of sociodemographic factors that are associated with the effectiveness of local language acquisition among immigrants, but little is known about the influence of psychological differences on immigrants’ local language acquisition. In the present research, individual differences in general mental ability (GMA), work search intention, and personality traits Conscientiousness and Openness were studied among recently arrived Syrian (n = 1054) and Eritrean (n = 500) refugees in the Netherlands. The results revealed that in addition to the effects of age of arrival, local length of stay, premigration educational attainment, and psychological distress, GMA and work search intention were positively associated with refugees’ local language proficiency. Additionally, work search intention was found to strengthen the effect of GMA on local language proficiency. No positive linear effects were observed for Conscientiousness and Openness. Some evidence was found for curvilinear relationships between psychological predictors and local language proficiency. Implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1385-1400
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number7
Early online date23 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • conscientiousness
  • general mental ability
  • local language proficiency
  • openness
  • refugees
  • work search intention


Dive into the research topics of 'Psychological individual differences as predictors of refugees’ local language proficiency'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this