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High self-esteem of Chinese in Britain

CHINESE teenagers in Britain have significantly higher self-esteem than their counterparts in Hong Kong. They are confident and happy despite their relatively disadvantaged status in British society, research suggests.

In fact, UK Chinese score slightly higher on self-esteem than white British teenagers. "This reflects the fact that Chinese youngsters have been freely adopted by British society and achieved good support and encouragement in their social life and academic work," says Hong Kong academic Yiu Man Chan.

Although most of the 562 UK Chinese 11 to 18-year-olds who took part in the study came from catering or working-class backgrounds, their eduational aspirations were generally high.

Yiu Man Chan also questioned 381 English teenagers and 360 Hong Kong Chinese students. The low self-esteem of the Hong Kong teenagers could be caused by the more self-effacing values in Chinese society, the researcher says. The authoritarian style of education or the highly competitive pressures created by schools, families and society may also be contributory factors.

Susannah Kirkman

"Self-esteem: A cross-cultural comparison of British-Chinese, White British and Hong Kong Chinese children", by Yiu Man Chan, the Hong Kong Institute of Education, China. Educational Psychology, Vol. 20, No1, 2000.

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