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Direct and interactive effects of peer support and resilience on psychosocial adjustment in emerging adults with early left-behind experiences

Authors Lan X, Wang W

Received 24 January 2019

Accepted for publication 13 March 2019

Published 17 April 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 277—288


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Mei-chun Cheung

Xiaoyu Lan,1,2 Wenchao Wang1

1Faculty of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Developmental Psychology and Socialization, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

Background: Although abundant research documented the vulnerability of left-behind children in rural China, little is known about whether early left-behind experiences are linked to their positive psychosocial functioning in later life, as well as the potential protective factors for their psychosocial adjustment.
Purpose: Informed by positive youth development framework and a positive adjustment framework in migrants, the current study compares psychosocial adjustment characterized by self-esteem and prosocial behavior between emerging adults with early left-behind experiences (LB-E) and their counterparts (Non-LB-E). Of importance, this study also examines the potential protective roles of social context (ie, peer support) and individual characteristic (ie, resilience) in psychosocial outcomes among Chinese emerging adults with and without early left-behind experiences.
Methods: A propensity score matching was used to balance the two groups regarding age, gender, socioeconomic status, and potentially traumatic life events. Finally, a total of 182 emerging adults with early left-behind experiences and 182 their counterparts was involved in the current study, who were asked to complete self-report questionnaires.
Results: The results showed that there were no significant differences in self-esteem and prosocial behavior between the two groups. In addition, resilience was found to moderate the link between peer support and self-esteem. Specifically, in the context of higher levels of peer support, emerging adults with higher levels of resilience reported higher levels of self-esteem.
Conclusion: The current study suggests that early left-behind experiences are not an adversity for emerging adults’ positive psychosocial adjustment, and the protective roles of peer support and resilience are highlighted in Chinese emerging adults. Intervention or prevention programs may focus on the enhancement of resilience as well as the quality of peer relationships, shifting away from risk towards positive development models.

Keywords: resilience, left-behind children, peer support, self-esteem, prosocial behavior, emerging adult

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