Chinese and European American Undergraduates' Perceptions of Maternal Warmth and Negativity as Predictors of Self-Esteem and Life Satisfaction

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This study examined whether culture moderated the associations between Chinese and European American undergraduates’ perceptions of parental warmth and negativity, and how these perceptions predicted undergraduates’ levels of self-esteem and subsequent life satisfaction. Participants consisted of 207 undergraduates (95 female, 112 male) from Wuhu, Anhui, China, and 129 (75 female, 54 male) European American undergraduates from Columbia, Missouri, the United States. Path analyses were conducted to examine the mediating role of self-esteem in the associations between parental warmth and negativity and young adults’ life satisfaction. Maternal warmth and negativity were more strongly negatively associated in the European American group than in the Chinese group; moreover, both warmth and negativity predicted self-esteem in the Chinese group, but only negativity predicted self-esteem in the European American group. Self-esteem significantly predicted life satisfaction in both groups, but the association was significantly stronger in the European American group. The results suggest cultural differences in the links between parental warmth and negativity, self-esteem, and subsequent life satisfaction. Therefore, it is important to consider parental warmth and negativity as separate constructs, because their associations with each other and with children’s levels of adjustment may vary across cultures.


This article was originally published as Davis, A., Rudy, D., Su-Russell, C., & Zhang, C. (2017). Chinese and European American undergraduates’ perceptions of maternal warmth and negativity as predictors of self-esteem and life satisfaction. Journal of Cross-Cultural Research, 52, 192-212. https://doi.org/10.1177/1069397117718812