American and Chinese Early Adolescents’ Inclusion of Their Relationships With Their Parents in Their Self-Construals


  • This research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant R01 MH57505. We are grateful to the children who participated in this research. We thank Scott Litwack, Molly McDonald, and Haimei Wang for their help in collecting and managing the data. We appreciate the constructive comments on an earlier version of this article provided by Karen Rudolph and members of the Center for Parent–Child Studies.

concerning this article should be addressed to Eva M. Pomerantz, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 603 East Daniel Street, Champaign, IL 61820. Electronic mail may be sent to


This research examined children’s interdependent self-construals as manifest in their seeing their relationships with their parents as self-defining. Four times over early adolescence, 825 children (mean age = 12.73 years) in the United States and China reported on their inclusion of their relationships with their parents in their self-construals as well as other dimensions of their psychological functioning. Although there was continuity in children’s inclusion of their relationships with their parents in their self-construals, American, but not Chinese, children decreased their inclusion over time. In both the United States and China, the more children defined themselves in terms of their relationships with their parents, the more their perceptions of the quality of these relationships mattered for their subsequent emotional functioning.