Skip to main content

Parents’ Self-Development Socialization Goals and Chinese Adolescents’ Academic Motivation: The Mediating Role of Parents’ Autonomy Support


The socialization goals parents hold for their adolescents, which reflect the qualities, skills, or behaviors they want their adolescents to acquire, play an important role in shaping adolescents’ adjustment via parenting practices. Nevertheless, there is a lack of studies that examine the longitudinal implications of parents’ socialization goals for adolescents’ academic motivation, especially in non-Western cultures. Moreover, evidence is still scarce regarding the full process from parents’ socialization goals to parenting practices and further to adolescents’ academic adjustment. To address these gaps, the current two-wave longitudinal study spanning one year examined whether two critical socialization goals endorsed by parents in Chinese culture, namely self-development (i.e., parents wanting adolescents to be unique, autonomous, and self-assertive) and academic achievement socialization goals (i.e., parents wanting adolescents to achieve academic success), predicted Chinese adolescents’ academic motivation over time via parents’ autonomy support. Two hundred and eighty-five Chinese adolescents (Mean age = 12.29 years, SD = 0.64, range = 11–14, 51% girls) reported on perceived parental socialization goals and autonomy support, as well as different aspects of their own academic motivation (i.e., academic interest, mastery orientation, and persistent responses to academic failure). Results showed that perceived parents’ self-development socialization goals positively predicted adolescents’ academic motivation one year later, which was mediated by parents’ increased autonomy support. The findings highlight the positive role of parents’ self-development socialization goals in Chinese adolescents’ academic adjustment in the changing society, and identify the underlying socialization processes via parenting practices.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2


Download references


We would like to thank all the families participating in this study.


This study is supported by the research fund of the School of Social Development and Public Policy at Fudan University and the research fund of “Research Project on Adolescent Development” to X.L., and research fund from the Center for Culture, Brain, Biology, and Learning at Northwestern University to Y.Q.

Data Sharing Declaration

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Z.Z. performed data collection, developed the hypotheses, performed the statistical analyses, interpreted the results, and drafted the manuscript; Z.S. interpreted the results and drafted the manuscript; X.L. participated in the study design, and performed data collection; Y.Q. participated in the study design, developed the hypotheses, oversaw the data analysis, interpreted the results, and revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Xiaoru Li or Yang Qu.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies 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.

Informed Consent

Informed consents were obtained from all participants included in the study.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor (e.g. a society or other partner) holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Zhou, Z., Shi, Z., Li, X. et al. Parents’ Self-Development Socialization Goals and Chinese Adolescents’ Academic Motivation: The Mediating Role of Parents’ Autonomy Support. J Youth Adolescence 52, 1887–1901 (2023).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: