Beyond parents and peers: The role of important non-parental adults (VIPs) in adolescent development in China and the United States
non-parental adult influences
Cross Cultural Differences
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AbstractTo understand cross-cultural differences and similarities in the social contexts for adolescent development, 201 American and 502 Chinese 11th graders were surveyed about a non-parental adult who had played an important role in their lives (VIPs). Results showed that, compared to adolescents' VIPs in the United States, their Chinese counterparts were more likely to be teachers, to provide support in education-related areas, and to be considered role models. Chinese VIPs were also reported to exhibit fewer problem behaviors and depressive symptoms and express a higher level of sanctions against adolescent problem behaviors than American VIPs. Adolescents in both cultures reported that their VIPs' positive qualities surpassed those of parents and peers. VIPs' characteristics (e.g., sanctions, problem behavior, warmth, and depressed mood) were significantly associated with adolescent outcomes. These results suggest that although there are cross-cultural differences in the nature of VIPs, VIPs are a very important part of social context for adolescent development in both the United States and China. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.