ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (3): 306-321.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2021.00306

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Multidimensional psychology of filial piety (xiao): Differences in orientation and changes from ancient to modern times

GE Xiaoyu()   

  1. School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences and Beijing Key Laboratory of Behavior and Mental Health, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2020-06-27 Published:2021-03-25 Online:2021-01-27
  • Contact: GE Xiaoyu


Filial piety (xiao) refers to the proper way to treat parents, an important concept in Chinese culture. Past research in the realm of filial piety has had some limitations, such as unsatisfactory reliability and validity, confounding of subjective researcher intent, and omissions of important factors. Here, I have tested an operational conceptualization of filial piety. Specifically, in the pilot study, items were generated in two ways. First, 50 items were adapted from four Chinese philosophical classics. Second, 56 participants were then recruited to list 5–10 characteristics of filial piety, with a total of 337 individually generated descriptors that I collected, which were then grouped into 48 categories. In Study 1, I used exploratory factor analysis to construct a measure of filial piety (N = 633). In Study 2, I used confirmatory factor analysis and tested the correlations of each dimension of filial piety and criterion vari-ables (N = 396 and 206). The results demonstrated that filial piety is composed of nine factors: respecting and pleasing parents, obey-ing parents, being kind and pleasant to parents, adhering to principles without letting parents feel humiliated, accompanying parents, making a name for oneself and letting parents feel honored, yearning for parents, not interfering with parents, and dissuading parents. The nine-factor structure has good reliability, convergent validity, discriminant validity, criterion-related validity, and content validity. Different factors have different patterns of correlations with criterion variables. These findings help to understand the internal struc-ture of filial piety and differentiate its good side from its dark side.

Key words: xiao, Confucianism cultural psychology, filial piety, filial behavior, indigenous psychology