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Homesickness: a review of the literature

  • M. A. L. Van Tilburg (a1), A. J. J. M. Vingerhoets (a1) and G. L. Van Heck (a1)


Homesickness has not received due attention from psychological researchers, in spite of the fact that it is of considerable interest to counsellors and care-givers of those who have migrated or moved temporarily or permanently (e.g. immigrants, refugees, students, soldiers). First, this review addresses the definition of homesickness, the possible different kinds of homesickness, its prevalence rate, and symptomatology, Secondly, an overview is given of the theories that account for psychological distress following leaving home. These theories link homesickness with separation-anxiety and loss, the interruption of lifestyle, reduced control, role change, and internal conflict. In addition, the review focuses on: (i) studies that show that subjects reporting homesickness differ from non-homesick persons in terms of personality; (ii) the analyses of environmental characteristics that may play a crucial role in the onset and course of homesickness. Thirdly, Fisher's (1989) composite model of homesickness, which summarizes key findings of the major studies on homesickness is discussed. Fourthly, methodological issues are addressed. Finally, suggestions for future research are presented and possibilities for interventions are proposed.


Corresponding author

1Address for correspondence: Dr Miranda A. L. Van Tilburg Department of PsychologyUniversity of TilburgPO Box 901535000 LE TilburgThe Netherlands.


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