Parental Expressivity and Parenting Styles in Chinese Families: Prospective and Unique Relations to Children's Psychological Adjustment

Stephen H. Chen, Qing Zhou, Nancy Eisenberg, Carlos Valiente, Yun Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Objectives. Parents from different cultures differ in how frequently they express emotions. However, the generalizability of the relations between parental expressivity and child adjustment in non-Western cultures has not been extensively studied. The authors investigated prospective relations between parental expressivity within the family (positive, negative dominant, and negative submissive expressivity) and Chinese children's psychological adjustment, above and beyond parenting styles. Design. The study used 2 waves (3.8 years apart) of longitudinal data from a sample (n = 425) of children in Beijing (mean ages = 7.7 years at T1 and 11.6 years at T2). Parental expressivity and parenting styles were self-reported. To reduce the potential measurement overlap, items that tap parental expression of emotions toward the child were removed from the parenting style measure. The authors measured children's adjustment with parents', teachers', and peers' or children's reports. Results. Consistent with findings with European American samples, parental negative dominant expressivity uniquely and positively predicted Chinese children's externalizing problems controlling for prior externalizing problems, parenting styles, and family socioeconomic status. Neither parental expressivity nor parenting styles uniquely predicted social competence. Conclusions. Despite previously reported cultural differences in the mean levels of parental expressivity, some of the socialization functions of parental expressivity found in Western countries can be generalized to Chinese families. Although parental expressivity and parenting styles are related constructs, their unique relations to child's adjustment suggest that they should be examined as distinct processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-307
Number of pages20
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Parental Expressivity and Parenting Styles in Chinese Families: Prospective and Unique Relations to Children's Psychological Adjustment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this