Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Moira O'Connor

Second Advisor

Brian Bishop


International migration has assumed a new importance during the last few decades due to the volume and increase of population movement. Two important questions are relevant to the migration process. The person has to make the decision to move and to select a place of destination. In this thesis a series of studies designed to examine the factors that led to the consideration of leaving and the attributes which contributed to the choice of destination are presented. This research begins by adopting suggestions proposed by Jahoda (1981) to ask questions and thereby increase the knowledge base. The methodological framework of this research is derived from the different issues and controversies within psychology that have arisen due to a growing dissatisfaction with the traditional approaches that underpin much psychological research. Alternative philosophical and methodological approaches are drawn upon such as, substantive theorising (Wicker, 1989), the human science methodological framework (Dokecki, 1992), critical multiplism (Newbrough, 1992) and a systems perspective (Bronfenbrenner (1977) to achieve a more holistic approach to the research. A multi-method thesis is presented in four stages that incorporate triangulation of quantitative and qualitative methods to serve both completeness and confirmation of the research. Each level provides more detail and specificity moving from the macro to the micro level of inquiry. In order to address the key question of what factors influence the decision to migrate, the first stage explores the potential reasons why people leave the United Kingdom to live in Australia. The literature on possible reasons for migration is reviewed and is used as one source of information that is then further explored in this stage using qualitative semi-structured interviews that focus on the interpretive and descriptive analysis of these reasons. Some of the possible explanations included migrating for a better life and education for the children, the climate in Australia and the better economic prospects for the future. Based on these different perspectives provided by the participants, an informed decision tree was developed. The results of this first stage of the research informed the following two stages. The second stage of the research is a specific analysis of the substantive domain that examined the information obtained from stage one in more detail. This experimental stage was ideographic and used linear regression models obtained by regression analyses to understand the basis of the migration decision and the factors which contribute to that decision. Results of this study indicated that the judgments of two thirds of the participants were well modelled by the linear model. The implications and limitations for using this approach are discussed in detail. In the third stage of the research, the substantive domain is further explored in two studies which use a multiattribute utility model approach for conceptual clarification of the decision making process. In this stage, the additional research question was addressed which examined whether there were any differences in the decision making process between migrants from the U.K. living in Australia and a specific group with a visa intending to migrate who have not yet departed from the U.K. In the first study, 446 migrants from the U.K. already living in Australia completed a questionnaire. In the second study, a group of potential migrants, who had not yet migrated but had already obtained their visas, completed a similar questionnaire. In summary, the results supported the salience of the different factors determined in the previous studies and indicated that participants could be clearly divided into three groups using cluster analysis. The implications for understanding the results of both these studies are discussed. The final stage of the research continues the process of exploring the substantive domain and returns to the migrants to understand their experiences through real life episodes of migration. This stage uses the approach suggested by Dewey (1929), and returns to the migrants who have the experience and are able to clarify the situation as they have the best knowledge. The results reinforced the importance and salience of the different factors determined in the previous stages. It also confirmed that one cannot focus solely on only one factor, as there are a combination of factors which play a role in the decision to move. The final chapter reviews the results obtained in this thesis and the different methodological perspectives used in the research. The accumulation of knowledge that has resulted from this research and the contribution made to the understanding of the substantive domain of migration is discussed further. Positive suggestions for further research are proposed.