Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Paul Wachtel

Committee Members

Deidre Anglin

Benjamin Harris

Monique Bowen

Diana Punales Morejon

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


Korean American, Cross-cultural, autonomy, psychological well-being


This study aimed to explore whether parenting beliefs and practices that might promote academic or professional achievements also undermine aspects of psychological well-being. Specifically, the study focused on the relationship between the experience of subjective autonomy and psychological well-being measured in terms of self-esteem, flourishing, and life satisfaction. The sample consisted of 86 second-generation Korean Americans (KAs) and 99 European Americans (EAs) ages 25-35. Perceived parental autonomy support (versus psychological control) and perceived parental modernity (versus traditionalism) were also examined for group differences and associations with psychological well-being. As a group, KAs perceived greater parental psychological control and parental traditionalism and lower levels of subjective autonomy. For both KAs and EAs, subjective autonomy was associated with psychological well-being. The connotations of a few parenting dimensions and psychological well-being indicators varied by ethnicity and acculturation; these variations are discussed as are overall implications for future research and practice.

The implication of these findings is that the impediment to autonomy may stem from the presence of psychological control rather than the absence of autonomy support. Furthermore, contrary to some studies that regard the effects of parental psychological control as culturally syntonic, the findings of the present study indicate that perceived psychological control is negatively correlated with self-esteem among KAs as well as among EAs. For KAs, the experience of subjective autonomy is correlated with some indicators of psychological well-being, particularly those that pertain to the self as an individual, but less so for aspects of psychological well-being that bear on relationships or subjective standards, values, and aspirations. However, the findings of the present study indicate that the experience of autonomy is relevant to the psychological well-being of KAs, as it is to that of EAs.