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09-05-2016 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 7/2016

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 7/2016

Conceptions of Adolescence: Implications for Differences in Engagement in School Over Early Adolescence in the United States and China

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 7/2016
Yang Qu, Eva M. Pomerantz, Meifang Wang, Cecilia Cheung, Andrei Cimpian


American youth are more prone to storm and stress during adolescence than are Chinese youth (e.g., American youth’s engagement in school declines more). However, it is unclear why. This research examined differences in conceptions of adolescence in the United States and China. Using both open- and closed-ended measures, youth (N = 397; 50 % female; mean age = 13.19 years) reported on their views of teens. American (vs. Chinese) youth were more likely to see adolescence as a time of decreased family responsibility along with increased individuation from parents, school disengagement, and peer orientation. Conceptions of adolescence as a time of dampened family responsibility and heightened school disengagement contributed to American (vs. Chinese) youth being less engaged in school over the seventh and eighth grades. The findings suggest that culture shapes ideas about adolescence, which contribute to differences in American and Chinese youth’s engagement in school over this phase.

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