Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 24, Issue 8, pp 2191–2203 | Cite as

Parental Attributions of Children’s Success and Failure and Family Processes in Poor Chinese Families

  • Janet T. Y. Leung
  • Daniel T. L. Shek
Original Paper


The relationships between parental attributions of children’s success and failure and family processes of Chinese families experiencing economic disadvantage were examined in this study. A sample of 275 Chinese couples who had at least one child aged 11–16 experiencing economic disadvantage in Hong Kong were invited to participate in the study. Fathers and mothers completed the Parental Attributions Questionnaire, Parenting Style Scale, Chinese Parental Control Scale, Parental Sacrifice for Child’s Education Scale and Chinese Family Assessment Instrument. Results indicated that paternal attribution of children’s success and failure to effort influenced different family processes, including paternal control, paternal sacrifice for children’s education, and fathers’ perceived family functioning, whereas maternal attribution of children’s success and failure to effort influenced maternal control and maternal sacrifice for children’s education. Furthermore, we found that paternal and maternal attribution of children’s success and failure to ability predicted paternal and maternal control, respectively. On the contrary, attribution of children’s success and failure to luck did not predict any family processes in economically disadvantaged Chinese families. The present findings provide important insights on the relationships between parental attributions and family processes in Chinese families experiencing economic disadvantage, which helps to develop Chinese family model in the context of poverty. The study also suggests that human service workers should assess and promote parental attributional beliefs of effort and ability in assisting their children in their future development.


Poverty Parental attribution Parenting Family functioning Chinese 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied Social SciencesCity University of Hong KongKowloonHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of Applied Social SciencesThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHung HomHong Kong

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