Parent-Child Gaps in Stereotypes of Teens in Asian American Immigrant Families

Project: Research project

Project Details


Adolescence is often portrayed as a time of being rebellious and irresponsible in mainstream American culture (e.g., Buchannan & Holmbeck, 1998; Qu et al., 2016). However, it is unclear whether this “storm and stress” stereotype is also common in immigrant families in the United States. Although Asian American families are exposed to mainstream American culture, they also have distinct traditions and cultural values tied to their Asian heritage (Fuligni, Tseng, & Lam, 1999). Prior research suggests that Chinese youth do not hold as negative views of teens as European Americans; instead, Chinese see the teen years as a time of fulfilling family obligation and engaging in school (Qu et al., 2016). It is possible that Asian American parents view teens in a more positive light (e.g., seeing adolescence as a time of being responsible) as evident in China, whereas Asian American youth would see teens in a more negative light (e.g., seeing adolescence as a time of being irresponsible) similar to their European American peers. The tension between teen stereotypes in Asian American immigrant parents and youth may create a stressful family context during adolescence, such as heightened family conflict and dampened family cohesion, which may lead to negative consequences in youth’s health. The hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA) serves as an important pathway by which social factors influence adolescents’ health. Stressful contexts activate HPA function to cause an increase in cortisol. Prior research has consistently demonstrated that heightened cortisol awakening response (i.e., cortisol concentration in the 30-45 min after waking) predicts both new onsets and recurrences of mental health disorder (e.g., depression and anxiety) over adolescence (Adam et al., 2010; Adam et al., 2014). Therefore, greater intergenerational gaps in stereotypes of teens may be predictive of greater cortisol awakening response and more mental health problems. Employing a longitudinal design with a multi-method and multi-informant approach, the proposed study is guided by two goals. The first goal is to examine whether Asian American parents and youth hold different stereotypes of teens. The second goal is to investigate whether the gaps between parents’ and youth’s teen stereotypes predict youth’s cortisol awakening response and psychological ill-being as they navigate the early adolescent years. I will simultaneously test the relations of youth’s and parents’ own stereotypes and parent-child gaps in such stereotypes to youth’s adjustment over time.
Effective start/end date7/1/206/30/23


  • Society for Research in Child Development Inc. (Agmt 5/15/20)


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