Chinese Adolescents: Effects Of Parental Rejection And Self-Esteem

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Child Youth Care Forum (2015) 44:43–57
DOI 10.1007/s10566-014-9269-7

Materialistic Values Among Chinese Adolescents: Effects of Parental Rejection and Self-esteem
Xinyuan Fu • Yu Kou • Ying Yang

Published online: 8 July 2014
Ó Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014



Materialistic values among today’s adolescents have been a concern around the world, yet few studies concerning Chinese adolescents’ materialistic values have been conducted. Additionally, the joint effects of parental rejection and self-esteem on materialistic values remain unclear.
Objective We examined materialistic values in a sample of adolescents in mainland
China, and tested whether parental rejection was positively correlated with adolescents’ materialistic values and whether the process was moderated by self-esteem.
Methods We recruited 593 adolescents from 7th to 12th grade (299 boys; age:
M = 16.41, SD = 1.84) and asked them to complete a questionnaire containing parental rejection (parental rejection subscale from s-EMBU; Arrindell et al. in Personal Individ
Differ, 27(4):613–628, 1999), self-esteem (Self-Esteem Scale; Rosenberg in Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1965), materialistic values (Youth Materialism Scale; Goldberg et al. in J Consum Psychol 13(3):278–288,
2003), and demographic information.
Results Chinese adolescents did not strongly endorse materialistic values and the 7th grade students had a significantly lower level of materialistic values than students from the other five grades. No gender difference was found. Parental rejection was positively correlated with adolescents’ materialistic values, and the relationship was moderated by selfesteem. If faced with parental rejection, adolescents with higher self-esteem were less susceptive, without being as materialistic as those with lower self-esteem.
Conclusion Parental rejection might thwart adolescents’ basic psychological needs.
Therefore, adolescents pursued materialistic aspirations to compensate their needs. Adolescents with higher self-esteem were less materialistic, because they coped with parental rejection more effectively than those with lower self-esteem.

X. Fu Á Y. Kou (&) Á Y. Yang
Institute of Developmental Psychology, Beijing Normal University, 19 Xinjiekouwai Street, Haidian
District, Beijing 100875, People’s Republic of China e-mail:




Child Youth Care Forum (2015) 44:43–57

Materialistic values Á Parental rejection Á Self-esteem Á Chinese adolescents

Materialistic values reflect the importance a person places on possessions and their acquisition as a necessary or desirable form of conduct to reach desired end states, including happiness (Richins 2004; Richins and Dawson 1992). With the growing influence of consumerism and globalization, materialistic values among children and adolescents have been a concern of parents, educators, researchers, and government authorities around the world. Researchers have been examining adolescents’ materialistic values and exploring the underlying mechanisms, including psychological origins, emerging processes and outcomes (e.g., Baker et al. 2013; Hurst et al. 2013; Kasser et al. 2014), but studies in this area have been conducted primarily in western cultures. The few studies that have investigated Chinese materialistic values have primarily studied adult populations (e.g.,
Podoshen et al. 2011), been mostly based on the Hong Kong (which is historically and culturally different from mainland China) context (e.g., Chan and Prendergast 2008), and seldom explored the determinants (e.g., Schaefer et al. 2004). Therefore, in this study, we aimed to extend previous work by examining the materialistic values in a sample of adolescents in mainland China, and exploring the effects of parental rejection and selfesteem.
Materialistic values reflect not only dispositional differences but also a wide range of