We are one: Self-expansion to Cope with Family Separation

Resource Type
  • Bi, Chongzeng (Southwest University)
  • Oyserman, Daphna (University of Southern California)
Publication Date
  • Abstract

    Four in ten rural Chinese children are “left behind” by parents migrating for economic opportunity. Though left at a young age, these children compensate for parental separation in some ways -- doing as well academically as their peers and imagining as many possible futures for themselves as their peers. We predicted that one way they do this is through augmented self-expansion --including not only their mother in their self-concept, as is typical in Chinese culture, but also their caregiving grandmother. We assessed feeling (self-report), functional (spontaneous depth of processing), and physiological (event-related potential) markers of this inclusion among currently (Study 1, middle school, N=66) and formerly (Studies 2, 3 college N=162) left-behind students and their peers. As predicted, left-behind children felt closer to their grandmothers than their peers, though not as close to mothers. Functional (Study 1, 3, not Study 2) and physiological markers (Study 3) support this result.

Update Metadata: 2019-07-28 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2019-07-28