When East Meets West: Understanding the Misconduct of Teenage Girls in Hong Kong

Violet Cheung-Blunden*
Department of Psychology, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA

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Creative Commons License
© 2011 Violet Cheung-Blunden.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Psychology, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA; Tel: (415) 422-4373; Fax: (415) 422-2517; E-mail:


Although acculturation towards western culture has been linked to higher levels of misconduct in previous research, little is understood about the mechanisms involved. The present study uses two mediators, early autonomy timetable and large family obligation discrepancy to explain how western values alter children's behavior and family dynamics, that would push them towards misconduct. The sample included 138 girls (M = 13.8 years) from Hong Kong, a former British colony. Results showed that when indigenous youths adopted western values, their autonomy timetables were accelerated, which in turn manifested itself as misconduct. Meanwhile, the western acculturated youths also had a larger discrepancy between parental expectation and a child's willingness to fulfill family obligations, and this discrepancy in turn became a source of misconduct. The two mediation pathways replaced the direct pathway, suggesting that the key intervention effort for problem behaviors in hybrid cultural settings ought to focus on autonomy timetable and obligation discrepancy rather than western influence per se.

Keywords: Misconduct, aggression, acculturation, autonomy timetable, family obligation.