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International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health

Editor-in-Chief: Merrick, Joav

Editorial Board: Birch, Diana ML / Blum, Robert W. / Greydanus, MD, Dr. HC (Athens), Donald E. / Hardoff, Daniel / Kerr, Mike / Levy, Howard B / Morad, Mohammed / Omar, Hatim A. / de Paul, Joaquin / Rydelius, Per-Anders / Shek, Daniel T.L. / Sher, Leo / Silber, Tomas J. / Towns, Susan / Urkin, Jacob / Verhofstadt-Deneve, Leni / Zeltzer, Lonnie / Tenenbaum, Ariel

CiteScore 2018: 0.79

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.350
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.476

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Volume 25, Issue 4


Confucian virtues and Chinese adolescent development: a conceptual review

Daniel T.L. Shek
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, P.R. China
  • Center for Innovative Programs for Adolescents and Families, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, P.R. China
  • Department of Social Work, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, P.R. China
  • Kiang Wu Nursing College of Macau, Macau, P.R. China
  • Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Kentucky Children’s Hospital, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY, USA
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  • Other articles by this author:
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/ Lu Yu
  • Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, P.R. China
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/ Xiao Fu
Published Online: 2013-03-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijamh-2013-0031


Despite the fact that different Chinese communities have already undergone industrialization and urbanization, Confucian virtues are still regarded as developmental ideals in Chinese culture. Unfortunately, while Confucian virtues are commonly discussed under Chinese philosophies, they are rarely examined in the context of developmental research. In this paper, several key Confucian virtues are discussed, including loyalty (“zhong”), filial piety (“xiao”), benevolence (“ren”), affection (“ai”), trustworthiness (“xin”), righteousness (“yi”), harmony (“he”), peace (“ping”), propriety (“li”), wisdom (“zhi”), integrity (“lian”) and shame (“chi”). These Chinese traditional virtues are also linked to the concepts of character strengths and positive youth development constructs highlighted in Western culture. It is argued that Confucian virtues provide an indigenous conceptual framework to understand character strengths and positive youth development in Chinese culture. Furthermore, when service leadership is considered in Chinese contexts, these virtues should be regarded as important cornerstones.

Keywords: adolescent development; character strengths; Chinese culture; Confucian virtues; service leadership


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About the article

Corresponding author: Professor Daniel T.L. Shek, PhD, FHKPS, BBS, JP, Chair Professor of Applied Social Sciences, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Room HJ407, Core H, Hung Hom, Hong Kong, P.R. China, E-mail:

Received: 2012-03-01

Accepted: 2012-04-21

Published Online: 2013-03-27

Published in Print: 2013-12-01

Citation Information: International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, Volume 25, Issue 4, Pages 335–344, ISSN (Online) 2191-0278, ISSN (Print) 0334-0139, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijamh-2013-0031.

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