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Emerging Adulthood in Chinese Young People: Does ego identity status moderate the relationship between transition features and burnout? Open Access


Other title
Chinese young people
Emerging adulthood
Ego identity
Transition features
Moderate role
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Zhang, Xiaozhou
Supervisor and department
Lia Daniels (Educational Psychology)
Robert Klassen (Educational Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Sean Li (Education)
George Buck (Educational Psychology)
Dave Putwain (Education)
Kim Noels (Psychology)
Department of Educational Psychology
Psychological Studies in Education
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Dramatic social changes in contemporary society have resulted in young people taking a longer time to transition into adulthood. In Western cultures, Arnett (2000) identified this transition period as emerging adulthood. Individuals may experience this period differently, depending on their culture. Some young people in emerging adulthood may have negative experiences during this transition period because a multiplicity of life choices means that their future is uncertain. Young people’s ego identity development may lead to a greater self-selection of paths and activities. The purpose of this study is to understand the transition features of emerging adulthood and how the role of ego identity protects against negative psychosocial outcomes in mainland China. In order to answer the research questions, I recruited 603 young people, including university students and non-students aged 18-25 in mainland China. All participants were asked to answer a series of self-report questionnaires designed to measure their perceived adulthood status, emerging adulthood features (IDEA), ego identity development in the work domain (DIDS), and burnout symptoms (MBI). Results showed that a large proportion of the participants perceived themselves to be in the period of emerging adulthood, with significant differences depending on gender and educational status. Instead of the hypothesized five-dimensional structure of the transition features of emerging adulthood, a three-dimensional structure (i.e., identity exploration/experimentation, instability/negativity, and desire to be independent) was supported. An interaction effect between educational status and gender was found in the “desire to be independent” variable. Using cluster analysis, four groups were extracted (i.e., searching moratorium, foreclosure, moratorium, and carefree diffusion). Based on a multigroup structural equation modeling approach, the moderating effects of ego identity status were found in the association between certain dimensions of the transition features of emerging adulthood and dimensions of burnout. The results suggest that it is important to help individuals to develop a personal ego identity to guard against the negative psychosocial functioning during emerging adulthood in mainland China. At the societal level, it may be prudent to allow young people to extend their transition time into adulthood, allowing them to adjust to the rapid changes in our information- and technology-based society. Further recommendations are offered for parents, teachers, and local communities.
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