Use of foul language in Chinese high school students in Hong Kong : developmental trajectory and related predictors

Li LIN, Daniel T. L. SHEK

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentationPresentation

Abstract

Use of foul language has become increasingly popular or even “normalized” among young people, although swearing is still regarded as controversial, profane or even forbidden in many social contexts. As such, it is a thorny developmental issue for professionals in education, social work, youth service and adolescent research. However, little empirical research has been conducted to understand the developmental pattern of the use of foul language over adolescence. More importantly, there is a need to identify psychosocial factors that could help reduce the use of foul language. Previous research has suggested that adolescent delinquent behavior increases during adolescence. According to the tenets of positive youth development perspective, promotion of psychosocial competencies would help reduce adolescents’ delinquent behavior. Hence, it should bear a similar implication for the use of foul language, which arguably is a sort of adolescent delinquent behavior.

Adopting a longitudinal design, this study addressed two research questions: 1) Does adolescents’ use of foul language increase over the high school years?; 2) Are psychosocial competences (i.e., emotional competence, social competence, and moral competence) inversely associated with the increase of use of foul language among adolescents over the high school years? A total of 3,328 seventh graders in Hong Kong were assessed annually over six high school years. They rated on their frequency of speaking foul language and psychosocial competencies.

Univariate latent growth curve modeling was used to address the first question. Results showed that use of foul language was on the rise with the increase rate slowing down over the high school years. Multivariate latent growth curve modeling was employed to address the second question, and the results revealed that: a) the higher the initial levels of emotional, social or moral competencies, the lower the initial frequency of speaking foul language; b) the higher the initial level of emotional or moral competence, the slower the increase of speaking foul language; c) the increase (decrease) in the three psychosocial competencies predicted the decrease (increase) in speaking foul language, respectively. This study sheds light on the developmental pattern of the use of foul language among Hong Kong adolescents, and suggests that emotional competence, social competence and moral competence play a critical role in reducing the use of foul language among adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventThe International Conference on Building a Better Future for Young People : The Role of Positive Youth Development, Family and Community - The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong
Duration: 12 May 201613 May 2016

Conference

ConferenceThe International Conference on Building a Better Future for Young People : The Role of Positive Youth Development, Family and Community
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
CityHung Hom
Period12/05/1613/05/16

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Use of foul language in Chinese high school students in Hong Kong : developmental trajectory and related predictors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this