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Parental Autonomy Granting and Adolescents’ Life Satisfaction: The Mediating Roles of Emotional Self-Efficacy and Future Orientation


Recent theories and studies have provided evidence that parental autonomy granting is linked to adolescents’ life satisfaction, but very few studies have investigated this relationship in Chinese cultural contexts. Additionally, the potential mechanisms underlying this relationship are not comprehensively understood. This study examined whether autonomy granting parenting practice promoted adolescents’ life satisfaction and whether this link was mediated by emotional self-efficacy and future orientation among 795 Chinese junior high school, senior high school, and college students (59.87% girls). Based on a longitudinal design, autonomy granting parenting practice and emotional self-efficacy were assessed at Time 1, and future orientation and life satisfaction were assessed at Time 2. Structural equation modeling revealed that autonomy granting parenting practice was directly related to adolescents’ life satisfaction and indirectly through both emotional self-efficacy and future orientation. Furthermore, the effects of these mediators differed across the various stages of adolescence. Specially, for college students, self-efficacy in expressing positive emotions independently mediated the relationship between parental autonomy granting and life satisfaction. For senior high school and college students, self-efficacy in managing negative emotions and future orientation sequentially mediated this relationship. In addition, future orientation also mediated the relationship between autonomy granting and life satisfaction; however, the mediating effect of future orientation differed in direction for the junior and senior high school samples. These findings highlight the importance of providing adolescents with autonomy and targeting specific mediating factors to enhance life satisfaction of individuals at different stages of adolescence.

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The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the figshare repository,

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Software application or custom code is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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This work was supported by the Scientific Research Fund for High-level Talents in Shandong Women’s University (Grant number: 2019RCYJ05).


This study was funded by the Scientific Research Fund for High-level Talents in Shandong Women’s University (Grant number: 2019RCYJ05). The Scientific Research Fund for High-level Talents in Shandong Women’s University, 2019RCYJ05, Xinwen Bi

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Authors and Affiliations



All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Xinwen Bi conducted the analyses and drafted the manuscript; Shuqiong Wang conceived and coordinated the study and helped to draft the manuscript; Yanhong Ji helped to draft the manuscript. All authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript and the byline order of authors.

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Correspondence to Shuqiong Wang.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Ethics approval

This study was approved by the ethics committee on human experimentation of Shandong Women’s University. All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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The work described was original that has not been published previously, and not under consideration for publication elsewhere, in whole or in part. Its publication has been approved by all co-authors and the responsible authorities at the institutions where the work has been carried out. No other manuscripts have been published, accepted, or submitted for publication using the same dataset.

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Bi, X., Wang, S. & Ji, Y. Parental Autonomy Granting and Adolescents’ Life Satisfaction: The Mediating Roles of Emotional Self-Efficacy and Future Orientation. J Happiness Stud 23, 2113–2135 (2022).

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  • Parent–child relationships
  • Autonomy granting
  • Life satisfaction
  • Emotional self-efficacy
  • Future orientation