The Effect of Gender Differences and Cognitive Empathy on the Encouragement of Social Competence for the Next Generation: Evidence from Chinese Parents

Yi Huang, Petr Macek


Background: In the western cultural context, parents emphasize female children’s social-behavioral development more heavily. Likewise, mothers are more supportive of children's social development compared to fathers. However, whether the same behavior can be observed in eastern culture remains unclear. Besides the unchangeable factors (e.g., gender), it is also worth investigating whether the parents' improvable factors influence the emphasis on a child's socialization.

Objects: This study aimed to investigate the effects of a child’s gender, parent’s gender, and parent’s cognitive empathy on parental encouragement of a child’s social competence in Chinese culture.

Conclusions: Contrary to the western findings, this research suggested that in China, parents emphasize more social competence of the male child. Analogically, compared to mother, father underscores a child’s social competence more heavily. Additionally, a parent’s cognitive empathy explained the variance in parents’ encouragement of a child’s social competence even after controlling for the gender variables of parents and children.

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