Perceived Social Support and Well-Being of International Students at an Italian University




international students, social support, well-being, dispersion of dependency


The present study aimed to explore international students’ well-being in relation to their perception of social support and dispersion of dependency on various resources. Participants were 139 international students at an Italian university who completed the WHO-5 Well-being Index, Symptom Checklist 90-R, Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, and Dependency Grids. Results showed that higher well-being correlated with higher support and lower distress and that higher dispersion of dependency was associated with higher perceived support. International students who sought professional psychological help also reported lower well-being, higher distress, and fewer resources compared to those who did not seek psychological support. Furthermore, coming from collectivist cultures (rather than individualist ones) as well as being a long-term (rather than short-term) student was mostly associated with higher distress and less perceived support. These results suggest that counselling services for international students should help them find new sources of social support.

Author Biographies

Sabrina Cipolletta, University of Padua

Sabrina Cipolletta, Ph.D, is an Associate Professor in the Department of General Psychology at the University of Padua, Italy. She is the director of PsyMed, a research laboratory of psychology in the medical field, and of a clinical service for International students.  She teaches Social Psychology and Health and is the head of the International Bachelor Degree program in Psychological Science. Her research interests are in the field of health psychology and interpersonal relationships.

Arianna Mercurio, University of Rome 3

Arianna Mercurio, MSc, is graduated in Clinical Dynamic Psychology at the University of Padua, Italy, in 2020. She is currently attending a first level master in Orientation and Placement at the University of Rome 3, Italy. Her research interests are in the field of social support and personal constructs psychology.  

Rachele Pezzetta, San Camillo Hospital IRCCS

Rachele Pezzetta, Ph.D, is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the San Camillo Hospital IRCCS, in Venice. She obtained her PhD in Cognitive, Social and Affective Neuroscience at La Sapienza University in Rome. Her research interests are in the field of cognitive and affective psychology, and clinical neuroscience. She is currently training at the School of Psychotherapy of personal constructs psychology.


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How to Cite

Cipolletta, S., Mercurio, A., & Pezzetta, R. (2021). Perceived Social Support and Well-Being of International Students at an Italian University. Journal of International Students, 12(3), 613–632.



Research Articles (English)