Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Julie Costopoulos

Second Advisor

Robyn Tapley

Third Advisor

Vida L. Tyc

Fourth Advisor

Robert A. Taylor


With the marked increase in international students in the United States of America and their economic and cultural contributions, it has become even more crucial to address their struggles, including academic transitions, language barriers, migration, and discrimination (Perry, 2016). It has been found that international students are more fearful of crime in the US than in their home countries (Shi, 2021). Literature also indicates that different cultures somaticize their anxiety. It is viable to assume that fear of crime, a stimulus-bound anxiety, is likely to manifest as somatic complaints. Fear of crime often leads to behavioral changes, such as engagement in avoidance behaviors (Piscitelli & Perrella, 2017). Lower acculturation is a significant factor impacting the fear of crime (Luo & Zhao, 2017). Acculturation levels have been found to be related to somatization, i.e., lower acculturation is related to higher somatization (Cariello et al., 2020; Jiang et al., 2019; Lommel et al., 2019). Thus, the current study explores the relationship between fear of crime and somatization for international and domestic students. It also examines the mediating role of acculturation and avoidance behaviors in the relationship between fear of crime and somatization. Results demonstrated that international students had higher fear of crime which predicted engaging in more avoidance behaviors. For international students, age was a significant predictor of fear of crime, and grade point average (GPA) was a significant predictor for somatization. The relationship between fear of crime and somatization was impacted by gender. Acculturation to American culture, acculturation to Heritage culture and avoidance behaviors were not significant mediating factors in the relationship between fear of crime and somatization. Findings also suggest that international and domestic female students had higher fear of crime, somatization and avoidance behaviors than male students. These findings have implications for international student retention and mental health needs, with recommendations based on the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy model.


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