The Pygmalion Effect of the Filial Piety on Immigrant Children: The Influence on Asian American Students

By Md-Yunus, Sham'ah; Li, Mei-Ling et al. | Journal of Cultural Diversity, Fall 2017 | Go to article overview

The Pygmalion Effect of the Filial Piety on Immigrant Children: The Influence on Asian American Students


Md-Yunus, Sham'ah, Li, Mei-Ling, Mullins, Frank, Gong, Rose, Journal of Cultural Diversity


Asian American students are generally perceived as high achievers and do well in academics (Zhao, 2011). Often times they are observed as being hard working, diligent, highly motivated, and show much greater respect to their teachers and peers (Sue & Abe, 2008). In 2011, International Study of Science and Mathematics (Martin, Mullis, Foy, & Stanco, 2011) and International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (Mullis, Martin, Foy, & Arora et al., 2011) reported Asian Americans are found to surpass their American counterparts on standardized achievement tests. Some postulate a strong positive correlation between learning motivation of Asian American students and the Asian culture (Hong & Salili, 2000; Sue & Abe, 2008) in which children's academic success is largely dependent upon their parental expectations and family backgrounds based on the practice of filial piety's philosophy (Chow & Chu, 2007) which is rooted in the Confucius philosophy.

One of the core teachings in the Confucius philosophy is filial piety. Filial piety is defined as the correct way to act towards one's parents and it consists of loving one's parents, being respectful, polite, considerate, loyal, helpful, dutiful, and obedient (Huang, 2012). In general, students who practice filial piety behaviors had significantly lower levels of difficulties in behavioral, emotional symptoms, and hyperactivity or inattention (Hwang, 2007).

Filial piety is based on the Confucius philosophy, advocated behavior that showed obedience and respect for superiors, elder family members, ancestors, and leaders. As such, children were expected to show good and proper behavior leading to conventional thinking that can decrease children's problem behaviors (Shek, 2007). Children's behavior problems often times are related to their emotional development. In the context of filial piety, Asian American students' behavioral development and outcomes are closely influenced by the role of their parents. This is especially true if the parents belief in filial piety based on the practiced of Confucius philosophy. The parents influenced by filial piety as a mediating variable. Filial piety has a close relationship with the Pygmalion effect. The Pygmalion effect is a form of self-fulfilling prophecy, in which the greater the expectation placed upon people, the better they perform (Sue & Abe, 2008).

Confucian parents adopt a filial piety parenting style emphasizes at training their children to behave appropriately and high academic achievement in school (Nichols, 2013). Wu (1996) found the Chinese parents were shown to "adhere to parental strictness and discipline that support parents' right and position of authority" (p.154). In order to examine the influence of filial piety on Confucian parents, this study focuses on examining levels of parental influence on children obedience to parents rather than filial piety in a crosscultural context. The present study is intent to examine if Confucian filial piety has a positive relationship with Asian American student's high academic achievement and social emotional behaviors competence in the context of Pygmalion effect. Findings of this study could be used as a positive measure of benavioral and emotional control of students. We hypothesized filial piety does have positive relationships with Asian American student's high academic achievement and social emotional behavior competences. Two research questions guided this study:

1. Does filial piety have a positive relationship with Asian American student's high academic achievement?

2. Does filial piety have a positive relationship with Asian American students social emotional behavioral competence?

Generally, in most Asian American families who belief in Confucius and practice filial piety; the family background, parenting styles and parental expectations Й important roles in the children's development of -being and success in education. …

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