Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

A Cross-Cultural Perspective of Parental Influence on Female Adolescents' Achievement Beliefs and Behaviors in Sport and School Domains

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

A Cross-Cultural Perspective of Parental Influence on Female Adolescents' Achievement Beliefs and Behaviors in Sport and School Domains

Article excerpt

Little is known about parental socialization processes for youth participants from different cultural backgrounds. The purpose of this study was to examine parental influence on self-perceptions, task values, and achievement behaviors among female adolescents from two cultures using Eccles' expectancy-value theory (Eccles et al., 1983). Twelve Anglo Canadian and nine East Indian female adolescents were interviewed about perceptions of parental influence on expectancy-value constructs for sport and academic domains. Inductive and deductive content analyses were performed to identify lower and higher order themes from interview responses. Similarities and differences in perceived parental influence emerged for girls of both cultural groups and in both domains. Our findings support links among expectancy-value constructs and highlight cultural variations in parental socialization of achievement cognitions and behaviors in multiple domains.

Key words: female athletes, qualitative methods, social influence, youth development


Understanding contributors to achievement-related cognitions, emotions, and behaviors is important from theoretical and practical perspectives. Eccles' expectancy-value theory (Eccles et al., 1983; Ecdes, Wigfield, & Schiefele, 1998) is a suitable framework for explaining variations in achievement beliefs and behaviors in multiple domains. According to Eccles and colleagues, expectations for success and subjective task value directly influence achievement behaviors. Expectations for success refer to self-beliefs about being successful at a task, and subjective task value refers to the importance an individual places on being successful in a particular domain. Individuals will be more likely to participate in activities they expect to do well and place greater value in being successful. A primary contributor to youths' expectations of success and task values is socializers' beliefs and behaviors, especially parents.

Parents play an important role in shaping children's success expectations, task values, and achievement behaviors in such domains as sport and school (Eccles et al., 1983, 1998). Eccles and colleagues identified three mechanisms by which parents influence children's achievement behaviors. Parents are providers of experience, interpreters of experience, and role models. For example, they provide opportunities by signing children up for activities, transporting them to practices and competitions, and purchasing equipment (e.g., Green & Chalip, 1998).

Providing or limiting participation opportunities conveys to children what their parents consider to be important as well as their beliefs about the child's capabilities in an achievement domain.

Parents help children interpret experiences by assessing performance quality and giving feedback and reinforcement for certain behaviors. Studies have assessed these associations between parents' beliefs about their child's ability and the child's self-beliefs. Studies in the academic domain support links identified by Eccles and colleagues (1983, 1998) concerning parent-child beliefs and behaviors (e.g., Frome & Eccles, 1998). Frome and Eecles found that parents' achievement beliefs in math and English had a stronger influence than objective grades on children's task perceptions. Similarly, Fredricks and Eccles (2005) found that children's ability beliefs and participation in sport were related to their parents' beliefs about the child's abilities. Other studies have also found children's perceptions of parents' ability beliefs to be strongly related to children's perceptions of competence in school and sport (e.g., Bois, Sarrazin, Brustad, Trouilloud, & Cury, 2002; Fredricks & Eccles, 2002).

Finally, parents model attitudes and behaviors that influence children's self-perceptions of ability in and value toward achievement. In the academic domain, parent modeling effects have been weaker than parents' ability beliefs and expectations for their child (Eccles et al. …

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