Chinese international students (CISs) are the biggest international student group in the United States. Among the challenges CISs face, the current study focused on examining the role of interpersonal problems on their acculturative stress. The Inventory of Interpersonal Problems-Short Circumplex (IIP-SC) was used to measure CISs' interpersonal problems. An evaluation of psychometric properties of IIP-SC among CISs was conducted. Comparison of IIP-SC scores before and during their studies indicated a decreased investment in the communion domain of interpersonal problems. This decrease could be due to less need to be nurturant and gaps in cultural norms between contexts in China and the United States. CISs' agency and general elevation of interpersonal problems at prearrival were found to be predictive of their acculturative stress after a semester of studying in United States, while controlling their gender, age, and general psychological distress. Lower prearrival agency and higher general interpersonal distress were associated with higher acculturative stress. The findings of the current study are important in identifying potential factors (i.e., low agency in interpersonal relationships) that contributed to CISs' acculturative stress. This can inform international student services, staff, faculty, and mental health professionals how to bridge this gap and facilitate CISs' acculturative processes.
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