Savvy Investments or Formative Endowments? Disentangling Causal Direction in the Association Between Parental Support and Self-Efficacy in STEM University Students

Rajiv K. Amarnani, Simon Restubog, Prashant Bordia, Sarbari Bordia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (SciVal)


Conventional wisdom views the parent–child relationship as unilateral: Parents’ actions upstream flow downstream to shape their children’s development. However, scholars have proposed that this view of parenting is lopsided; children may influence their parents no less than parents influence children. We apply this bilateral perspective in a reexamination of the robust finding that confident people report having had more supportive parents. The social-cognitive explanation for this finding is that parents endow their children with support that builds confidence. However, evolutionary accounts suggest that confident children—displaying more promise and potential—ought to attract their parents’ investments of support. We examined these predictions in a four-wave longitudinal study drawing on both archival and field survey data from 350 STEM students (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in the Philippines. Results were consistent with the bilateral perspective, in which parental support endowed children with confidence, but also children’s confidence attracted parental support in equal measure. These reciprocal relations also had implications for whether or not students persisted in their computer science degrees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)719-729
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Issue number6
Early online date28 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2021


  • career development
  • career persistence
  • parents
  • self-efficacy
  • social cognitive theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this