Third Culture Kids, their diversity beliefs and their intercultural competences

Monika F. de Waal*, Marise Ph Born, Ursula Brinkmann, Jona J.F. Frasch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Positive diversity beliefs are known to increase the effectiveness of diverse groups in organizations and society. Early cross-cultural experiences might facilitate developing these diversity beliefs. This study examined the relationship between being a third-culture kid (TCK) and one's diversity beliefs, and the possible mediation of this relationship by intercultural competences. Data came from 1454 respondents, 17–19 years of age, who filled out the Intercultural Readiness Check (IRC) between 2011 and 2016 (49.1 % female, 50.9 % male). 65.0 % of the respondents had specified their nationality as Dutch, and 35.0 % had indicated a different nationality. 550 respondents (37.8 %) had spent one or more years abroad and were thus classified as TCKs. Their diversity beliefs were compared to 904 respondents (62.2 %) who had never lived abroad, and who therefore were classified as non-TCKs. A mediated regression analysis showed that TCKs had higher positive diversity beliefs than non-TCKs, and that this relationship was mediated by the degree to which they had developed specific intercultural competences, being intercultural sensitivity and building commitment. These findings show that early cross-cultural life experiences help individuals to develop intercultural competences and positive diversity beliefs. Equipped with these competences and beliefs, TCKs can add value to organizations and society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-190
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Early online date19 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Diversity beliefs
  • Intercultural competences
  • TCKs
  • Third Culture Kids


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