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Identifying psychological resilience in Chinese migrant youth through multidisciplinary language pattern decoding


  • Li, Sijia
  • Lu, Shuang
  • Ni, Shiguang
  • Peng, Kaiping


China's four decades of rural-to-urban labor migration has created 36 million migrant youth, who encounter more adversity than their urban peers due to educational and socioeconomic exclusion. This study focuses on the psychological resilience of these migrant youth since it indicates the ability or success to cope with adversity. We examine psychological resilience indicators based on migrant youth language patterns extracted in a multidisciplinary way. Our research questions are: whether Chinese migrant youths' language patterns indicate their resilience-related characteristics, and how effectively can three language analysis approaches (user-defined dictionary, feature extraction, and word co-occurrence) identify these indicators, which may be further applied as machine learning features for psychological resilience level estimation. Students in a middle school for migrant youth in Shenzhen, China were recruited as initial participants, and their resilience levels were rated by the Chinese version of Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale. These youth then wrote one week of diary entries. The high- (n = 37) and low-resilience (n = 45) participants' writings were analyzed through the three language analysis approaches. The results suggest that Chinese migrant youth in this study present distinctive language patterns that closely relate to resilience indicators (positive emotion, self-efficacy, self-esteem, and positive affect), which can be further employed in differentiating resilience level (high vs. low) as machine learning features with satisfactory prediction accuracy. Our findings suggest a new interdisciplinary approach for effective psychological resilience identification among migrant youth in China and other high-risk youth populations.

Suggested Citation

  • Li, Sijia & Lu, Shuang & Ni, Shiguang & Peng, Kaiping, 2019. "Identifying psychological resilience in Chinese migrant youth through multidisciplinary language pattern decoding," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 107(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:107:y:2019:i:c:s0190740919306747
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.104506

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Metzler, Marilyn & Merrick, Melissa T. & Klevens, Joanne & Ports, Katie A. & Ford, Derek C., 2017. "Adverse childhood experiences and life opportunities: Shifting the narrative," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 141-149.
    2. Mu, Guanglun Michael & Hu, Yang, 2016. "Validation of the Chinese Version of the 12-Item Child and Youth Resilience Measure," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 332-339.
    3. Zolkoski, Staci M. & Bullock, Lyndal M., 2012. "Resilience in children and youth: A review," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(12), pages 2295-2303.
    4. Joseph M. Boden & Jackie Sanders & Robyn Munford & Linda Liebenberg, 2018. "The Same But Different? Applicability of a General Resilience Model to Understand a Population of Vulnerable Youth," Child Indicators Research, Springer;The International Society of Child Indicators (ISCI), vol. 11(1), pages 79-96, February.
    5. Kidd, Sean A. & Miner, Susan & Walker, Diana & Davidson, Larry, 2007. "Stories of working with homeless youth: On being "mind-boggling"," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 16-34, January.
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