DEFINITION of 'Reverse Culture Shock'

Reverse culture shock is the emotional and psychological distress suffered by some people when they return home after a number of years overseas. This can result in unexpected difficulty in readjusting to the culture and values of the home country, now that the previously familiar has become unfamiliar.

In the business context, the advent of globalization has resulted in more and more employees being sent on lengthy assignments to other countries. With the number of expatriates who live and work in countries other than their own having increased in recent years, reverse culture shock is a phenomenon that is on the rise.

BREAKING DOWN 'Reverse Culture Shock'

The degree of reverse culture shock may be directly proportional to the length of time spent overseas – the longer the time spent abroad, the greater the shock factor upon the eventual return home. Another factor that may influence the magnitude of reverse culture shock is the extent of the difference in cultures between the expatriate's home country and the foreign country. The bigger the cultural difference, the greater the reverse culture shock likely upon return.

How Reverse Culture Shock Occurs

As an individual spends time overseas and gets more acclimated with their surroundings, they may grow more accustomed to the local norms than what they experienced at home. For instance, it is local custom to remove one’s shoes before entering a residence in numerous cultures. Adapting to such a custom may create a habit that is hard to break upon a return home. There may be a chance in pace for work and leisure that is initially disruptive to the lifestyle, then later becomes part of their new routine. This interchange in lifestyles may cause the traveler to put their native behavior and customs under scrutiny.

On a psychological and interpersonal level, the degree of reverse culture shock may be increased or lessened by the amount of communication that is maintained with family, friends, or coworkers in their home country. If there is little regular dialogue between the parties, it may be easier to detach from the customs and demeanor of the home nation in favor of the new culture. Furthermore, if the personal contacts back home express disinterest in hearing about the new experiences of the individual who is overseas, it may widen the divide between them.

Episodes of reverse culture shock typically are less severe for individuals who have traveled overseas and returned home more frequently and developed a perspective on interacting with other cultures.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Culture Shock

    Culture shock is the feeling of uncertainty, confusion or anxiety ...
  2. Corporate Culture

    Corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine ...
  3. Economic Shock

    An economic shock is an event that occurs outside of an economy, ...
  4. Globalization

    Globalization is the extension and integration of cross-border ...
  5. Supply Shock

    A supply shock is an unexpected event that changes the supply ...
  6. Power-Distance Index - PDI

    An index developed by Dutch sociologist Geert Hofstede that measures ...
Related Articles
  1. Insights

    Sexism Charges Bring Uber's Toxic Culture to Fore

    An employee penned a lurid tale of sexism in the workplace culture at the fast-growing startup.
  2. Personal Finance

    Advance Your Career With a Finance Job Overseas

    Many finance jobs have moved overseas with outsourcing providing cost benefits. Find out why taking a job in a foreign country could be a good career move.
  3. Personal Finance

    The Reverse Mortgage: Lifesaver or Albatross?

    How to decide if a reverse mortgage will help fund your retirement – or undermine it.
  4. Personal Finance

    Know the Pros and Cons of Reverse Mortgages

    As with any financial product, there are costs and benefits to reverse mortgages.
  5. IPF - Mortgage

    The Rules for Getting an FHA Reverse Mortgage

    A reverse mortgage can make it affordable for you to live in your home for the rest of your life. But make sure you know the rules first.
  6. IPF - Mortgage

    Who Needs a Proprietary Reverse Mortgage?

    Certain homeowners may find that a proprietary reverse mortgage allows them to borrow more against their home’s equity than a regular reverse mortgage.
  7. Investing

    Reverse Mortgages: No Longer a Loan of Last Resort

    In the right circumstance, a reverse mortgage can be an effective financial planning tool.
  8. Retirement

    Retiring Abroad: Should I Sell My Home?

    You've decided to retire in another country. What should you do with your home in the United States?
  9. IPF - Mortgage

    Top 5 Alternatives to a Reverse Mortgage

    If you have substantial home equity and don't want to do a reverse mortgage to tap it for retirement expenses, cost out these viable alternatives.
  10. Personal Finance

    Reverse Mortgages: Why They're Really Too Good To Be True

    Americans are increasingly turning home equity to cash - but this transaction is not as simple as it sounds.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What are some common examples of demand shock?

    Discover some common examples of demand shock. Demand shocks lead to rapid increases or decreases in demand that catch everyone ... Read Answer >>
  2. Why do supply shocks occur and who do they negatively affect the most?

    Take a deeper look at the nature of supply shocks, an economic phenomenon that dramatically changes the equilibrium level ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center