Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 48, Issue 6, pp 1146–1160 | Cite as

Latent Profile Analysis of Left-behind Adolescents’ Psychosocial Adaptation in Rural China

  • Jingxin Zhao
  • Qianyu Li
  • Liwei Wang
  • Lingyu Lin
  • Wenxin ZhangEmail author
Empirical Research


Parental absence, a consequence of parents’ rural-to-urban migration, exerts negative influences on their left-behind adolescents in rural China. Existing studies are limited by their focus on the isolated developmental outcomes of left-behind adolescents and by a dearth of work focused on naturally occurring patterns of their developmental outcomes. The present study used a person-centered approach to identify adolescents’ adaptation profiles based on internalizing indicators (i.e., depressive symptoms, loneliness, subjective happiness, life satisfaction), externalizing indicators (i.e., rule-breaking behavior, aggressive behavior, prosocial behavior) and academic achievement and to relate these profiles to left-behind status, characteristics of parent-adolescent separation and gender. The study included 2102 adolescents (Mage = 13.48 ± 1.10 years, 46.8% girls) in junior high schools in rural China. A latent profile analysis identified 3 profiles: an adequate adaptation profile, an internalizing problem profile and an externalizing problem profile. These profiles were linked to left-behind status, to characteristics of parent-adolescent separation (i.e., separation duration, interval of long-distance communication and face-to-face communication) and to gender. These findings provide significant implications for future research and the development of interventions.


Left-behind adolescents Psychosocial adaptation Parent-adolescent separation Person-centered approach 


Authors’ Contributions

J.Z. conceived of the study and participated in the interpretation of the data, perform the statistical analysis, and drafted the manuscript; Q.L. helped to draft the manuscript and participated in the interpretation of the data; L.W. helped to perform the statistical analysis and participated in the interpretation of the data; L.L. helped to perform the statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript; W.Z. conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This study was supported by the National Project for Educational Sciences Planning in China (grant number: Project No. CBA130126).

Data Sharing and Declaration

This manuscript’s data will not be deposited.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the ethics committee on human experimentation of Shandong Normal University and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

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


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyShandong Normal UniversityJinanChina

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