A comparative study of child temperament and parenting in Beijing, China and the western United States

Christian L. Porter, Brigham Young University
Craig H. Hart, Brigham Young University
Chongming Yang, Brigham Young University
Clyde C. Robinson, Brigham Young University
Susanne F. Olsen, Brigham Young University
Qing Zeng, Brigham Young University
Joseph A. Olsen, Brigham Young University
Shenghua Jin, Beijing Normal University


The purpose of this investigation was to examine comparable dimensions and linkages between child temperament and parenting styles with samples from Beijing, China and the western United States. Participants included 404 mothers and fathers from Beijing, China and 325 mothers and fathers from the western United States. Both mothers and fathers completed Buss and Plomin's (1984) EAS Temperament Scale as well as a spousal-report measure of parenting styles. Structural equation modelling was used to identify invariant (statistically comparable) factors for child temperament and parenting styles. Within-culture gender comparisons showed that Chinese fathers (relative to mothers) viewed their sons as being more active and sociable than daughters while US mothers (relative to fathers) rated their sons as being more active. Across-culture differences revealed that US parents (relative to Chinese parents) viewed children as more emotional while Chinese fathers (relative to US fathers) rated their children as more active. Similar and differential cultural patterns of linkages were also found between parenting styles and child temperament. Child emotionality was positively associated with authoritarian parenting in both cultures while child activity level was linked to more authoritative and less authoritarian parenting styles, but only in the Chinese sample. Finally, child sociability was found to be negatively linked to cross-gender patterns of authoritarian parenting in the US while mothers' and fathers' authoritarian parenting in China was linked to lower sociability in daughters only. © 2005 The International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development.