Understanding the Lack of Parent–Child Value Similarity: The Role of Perceived Norms in Value Socialization in Immigrant Families

Hoi Wing Chan, Kim Pong Tam

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The parent–child value similarity is typically far from perfect. In this research, we propose that this phenomenon is attributable to the very first step in value socialization—parents’ selection of socialization values. The premise of this account is that parents consider not only values they personally endorse but also values they perceive to be normative in relevant societies when socializing children. Accordingly, parent–child similarity is not a necessary outcome of value socialization. We found supporting evidence to this account in a study of 94 immigrant mother–child dyads in Hong Kong. Our mother participants indeed referred to both their perceived value norms in the settlement society and the original society and their personal values when selecting socialization values. Also, the dual perceived value norms were to some extent internalized by their children. Furthermore, our mother participants’ degree of reference to value norms benefited their children’s psychosocial functioning. Specifically, participants who referred to the value norms in the settlement society to a larger extent had children with fewer adaptation difficulties, and participants who referred to the value norms in the original society had children with stronger identification with that society. Altogether, our findings indicate that investigating how parents select socialization values can illuminate our understanding of parent–child value similarity. Implications of these findings for the theoretical understanding of value socialization and children’s functioning are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-669
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • adaptation difficulties
  • identification
  • immigrants
  • perceived norms
  • value similarity
  • value socialization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology

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