COMM 4471: Communication
in Marriage and Family
Spring 2005
Defining Family
 Structural
 by social role
 Task-Orientation
 by goals & outcomes
 Transactional
 by communication behaviors & outcomes
Structural Definitions
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Nuclear
Stepfamily
Single-Parent
Blended
Gay-Parents
Multigenerational
Adopted
Task-Oriented Definitions
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Family of Origin
Family of Orientation
Dysfunctional
Abusive
Effective
Transactional Definitions
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Supportive
Alcoholic
Cold
Neglecting
Open
Conversation oriented
Authoritarian
Consequences of Definitions
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Social
Legal
Psychological
Theoretical
Defining Interpersonal
Communication
Interpersonal Communication is any
interaction between two or more
persons who exchange information,
create meaning, and influence each
other and who through this process
create social reality for themselves
and others and create and maintain
relationships with each other.
Circumplex Model of Family
Functioning
 Two primary dimensions:
 Adaptability (Flexibility)
 Cohesion
 Facilitating Dimension
 Communication
Functioning
Family Functioning
Dimension: adaptability/cohesion
Family Communication and Facilitation
Criticisms of Olson’s Model
 Lack of evidence for curvilinear
relationships of adaptability and
cohesion with functioning
 “Communication” largely
underconceptualized
McMaster Model
Problem Solving
Functioning
Communication
Family Roles
A-response
A-involvement
Behavior Control
Family Behavior
Culture and Family Comm.
 Communication takes place in a
cultural context
 Culture instantiated thru individual
psychology
 Culture instantiated thru group
practices
 Culture instantiated thru societal
structures
Dimensions of Culture
 Hofstede
 individualism-collectivism
 masculinity-femininity
 power-distance
 Hall
 Context
 Space & time
 Control-fatalism
Correlates of Culture
 Demographics
 Family size & composition
 SES
 Values & Beliefs
 Religion
 Political orientation
 Gender roles
4 Theoretical Approaches
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Systems Theory
Symbolic Interactionism
Attachment Theory
Dialectic Theory
Communication Systems
1) Wholeness: Complete
interdependence of parts
2) Nonsummativity: System is more
than sum of parts
3) Openness: Systems do not exist in
isolation
4) Equifinality: Outcomes are not predetermined by inputs
5) Hierarchy: Systems interact with
other systems
Evaluation of Systems Theory
 Strengths
 Emphasis on whole family &
interdependence
 Clarification of role of external factors
 Weakness
 Complexity and interdependence make
testable hypotheses difficult or
impossible
Symbolic Interactionism
Humans ability to interact
symbolically with one another is
their defining characteristic and has
important implications for Meaning,
Language, and Thought. (Mead,
1934)
Core Concepts of Symbolic
Interactionism
 Meaning
 Root cause of human behavior
 Arises from human interaction
 Language
 Social symbols, containers of meaning
 Thought
 Symbolic, Reflective & Perspective Taking
Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
 a.k.a. Linguistic Determinism
 Thought depends on language
 Ungrammatical thought or thought
w/o vocabulary is impossible
 Consequently, our language
determines what and how we think
Examples of Language
Independent Thought
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Emotions (anger, hate, love, etc.)
Visualizations
Spatial Orientation
Pre-verbal Infants
Inability to put an idea into words
Memories of sounds, smells, pain,
etc.
Sapir-Whorf and Reality
 Most thought independent of
language
 Even if thought were to depend on
language, language is generative
 Appearance of thought=language
result of language facilities
monitoring thought for immediate
communication
Attachment
The Strong Bond between Infant &
Primary Care Giver
 Innate (shared with many other
animals)
 Necessary for Survival &
Development
 Characterized by Multi-Stage
Reaction to Separation
Attachment (cont.)
 Necessary for Survival &
Development
 Secure Base Function
 Save Haven Function
 Characterized by Multi-Stage
Reaction to Separation:
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Protest
Despair
Detachment
Rebound from Detachment
Ainsworth’s Attachment Styles
(determined by Strange Situation)
1. Secure
- briefly upset, then happy & satisfied
2. Avoidant
- no emotional response, then avoid
mother
3. Anxious/Ambivalent
- very upset, then initially avoidant
PCG’s Behavior and Infant’s
Attachment Style
 Reliably Available
 Secure Attachment
 Reliably Unavailable
 Avoidant Attachment
 Unreliably Available/Over Involved
 Anxious/Ambivalent Attachment
Kobak’s Attachment Dimensions
Secure
Secure
Dismissing
Preoccupied
Dismissing
Avoidant
Preoccupied
Insecure
Bartholomew’s Four
Attachment Styles
Model of Self
+
+
Model
Of Other
_
_
Secure
Preoccupied
Dismissive
Fearful
Avoidant
Comparing Infant and Adult
Attachment
Infant
Adult
 Complementary
 Parent or Other
Adult
 Exploration System
easily
overwhelmed
 Reciprocal
 Peer & Sexual
Partner
 Separation has to
be sever to elicit
attachment like
reaction
Relational Dialectics
 Unlike Hegelian Dialectics, no
synthetical resolution
 Most crucial in 3 dimensions
1) Affiliation
2) Predictability
3) Intimacy
 Dialectics are internal & external
Internal & External Dialectics
INTERNAL
– Connectedness –
Separateness
– Certainty –
Uncertainty
– Openness –
Closedness
EXTERNAL
– Inclusion –
Seclusion
– Conventionality –
Uniqueness
– Revelation –
Concealment
Responses to Dialectics
More Functional
 Spiraling Alteration
 Segmentation
 Integration
 Reaffirmation
Less Functional
 Denial
 Disorientation
 Balance
 Recalibration
Ways of Learning
 Classical Conditioning
 Operant Conditioning
 Social Learning
Classical Conditioning
1. Before: CS --/--> R; UCS ----> R
2. Conditioning: UCS + CS ----> R
3. After: CS ----> R
CS = Conditional Stimulus
UCS = Unconditional Stimulus
R = Response
Operant Conditioning
 Associating behavior with an outcome
through reinforcement
 Reinforcement
 positive = presence of outcome
 negative = absence of outcome
 Outcome
 positive = desirable (reward)
 negative = undesirable (punishment)
Social Learning
 Associating behavior with an outcome
through observation
 Observation of
 presence/absence of positive & negative
outcomes
 approval/disapproval of behavior by
socialization agents (incl. significant
others)
Children’s Learning
 Children learn in all 3 ways
 Because social learning requires
extensive cognitive representations of
social world, social learning is
dependent on child’s cognitive
development
Active vs. Passive Learning
 Passive Learning
 focus of traditional learning theories
 how environment is structured
determines what is learned
 Active Learning
 focus of social learning theory
 how learner constructs (perceives)
environment determines what is learned
Family Interaction Norms
 Quantity of time spent
 No great changes in last 20 years
 Quality of time
 Type of activity
 Warmth & intimacy of interaction
 Increase in last 20 years?
Family Communication Patterns
 Associated with Shared Social Reality
 Two means to share reality (McLeod
&Chaffee)
 concept (conversation) orientation
 socio (conformity) orientation
Two Dimensions of
Family Communication
 Concept (Conversation) - Orientation
- open discussion of ideas
- family values interaction
 Socio (Conformity) - Orientation
- children’s adoption of parental
values
- family values conformity
Significance of Conversation
Orientation
 facilitates socialization of children
 increases cognitive complexity
 validates children’s opinions,
enhances self-esteem
Significance of Conformity
Orientation
 determines autonomy and
independence of children
 determines children’s decision making
Family Types
Protective
Conformity
Orientation
Laissez-Faire
Consensual
Pluralistic
Conversation Orientation
Assignment
 Think about 2 important rituals in
your family and what they mean to
you (i.e., the family)
 Write about it in 1-2 paragraphs and
bring to next class
Family Routines & Rituals
 Routine: repetitive behaviors
structuring family life devoid of
meaning or special significance
 Ritual: repetitive behaviors that give
meaning to, celebrate, or honor
family relationships
Family Rituals
 Patterned Family Interaction
 Frequent, informal, everyday interaction
 Family Traditions
 Infrequent & family-specific, affirm
family’s uniqueness
 Family Celebrations
 Infrequent, culture-specific, affirm
family’s ties to community
Small Group Exercise
 Share your stories of family rituals
 In your group, determine what type
of routines or rituals were present in
those stories and identify the
symbolic functions they fulfilled
Family Stories
 “accounts of family experiences
reflecting beliefs about families and
social institutions”
 shared among family members
 change over time
 fulfill important functions
Functions of Family Stories
 Referential: define family history
 Evaluative: relationships, behaviors,
community, society
 Socializing: of children and new
family members (in-laws)
Family Narratives
 Narratives = the form of stories
 Three Components
 Coherence
 Interaction
 Relationship beliefs
Family Secrets
 Information about families or family
members that are known to family
but kept from outsiders
 Determine membership
 Three types
 Taboos
 Rule violations
 conventional
 Shared vs. individual secrets
Rituals, Stories & Secrets
 Define family
 history, membership, values, internal &
external relationships
 Create meaning for self and
relationships with others
 Locate self in larger social context
Power
 The ability to influence people
 Influence: to get people to think, feel, or
behave differently as they would have
otherwise
 Two Types
 Abstract: perception of power
 Concrete: power used in relationship
Abstract Power
 Power that is perceived, but not
enacted
 Depends on:
 Ability to control events
 Willingness to control events
 Once a party begins to control
events, power becomes concrete
Sources of Relational Power
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Reward
Coercive (punishment)
Expert
Referent
Legitimate
Rhetorical
Family Types = Patterns of Power
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Patriarchal
Matriarchal
Filiarchal (child-centered ()
Democratic Authority
Dispersed
Rules = Regulated Power
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Paradigms - overarching
Midrange – context specific
Meta Rules – rules concerning rules
Concrete Rules – concerning behavior
 Regulative
 Constitutive
Processes of Decision Making
 Consensual
 Accommodation
 De Facto
Consensual
 conscious, methodical problem
solving effort
 needs & interests of all family
members considered
 maximizes problem solving
communication with superior results
Accommodation
 meet other’s rather than own needs &
interests
 weaker family members are
considered
 maximizes supportive
communication, but results not
always superior
De Facto
 no conscious decision making
 decisions are made in response to
internal/external exigencies
 minimizes interaction, but results are
often inferior
Coalition Building
 sub-systems (dyads) support each
other
 can be dysfunctional
 scapegoating: parents blame child
 detouring: child exhibits marital problem
 triangulation: parent-child coalition
against other parent
Defining Conflict
 Psychological
 perceived incompatibilities in goals
 goals can be personal, relational, or
instrumental
 associated with negative affect
 Interpersonal Behavior
 verbal aggression
 physical aggression
 problem solving
Conflict Outcomes
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Submission
Compromise
Standoff
Withdrawal
Responses to Conflict
 EVLN (Rusbult)
active
passive
VOICE
EXIT
LOYALTY
NEGLECT
constructive
destructive
Intimacy
 Psychological
 Behavioral (closeness)
 Interdependence
 Self-Disclosure
 Nonverbal Affection (bids)
 Intimacy is a Process
 personal development
 dyadic reciprocal behavior
Theory of Evolution (Darwin)
 Variation (random change of traits)
 Inheritance (passing on of traits to
offspring)
 Selection (of advantageous traits)
- Survival
- Reproduction
Sex Differences due to
Evolution
 i.e., sex-differences in behavior that
are the result of different
reproductive challenges for the sexes
 Parental Investment
 Parental Certainty
Parental Investment
 Men = low investment (intercourse)
 Less selective with sex partners
 Attraction based on fertility
 Women = high investment
(pregnancy)
 More selective with sex partners
 Attraction based on ability to provide and
loyalty
Parental Certainty
 Men = low certainty
 Sexual jealousy
 Les attachment to children
 Women = high certainty
 Emotional jealousy
 More attachment to children
Factors affecting mate selection
 Individual
 Dyadic/Interpersonal
 External
Individual
 Interpersonal Needs
 Inclusion, control, affection
 Beliefs and Values
 Attractiveness
 Physical, social, task
Dyadic/Interpersonal
 Similarity
 Assortive matching of sociocultural
variables
 Less important for communication
 Compatibility
 Relationship development
 Decision-making & Conflict
External Factors
 Proximity
 Physical, social, psychological
 Social-networks
 Family, friends, community
Pathways to Marriage
Commitment
Intermediate
Accelerated
Time
Prolonged
Prolonged Pathway
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slow increase
many up & down turns
high conflict throughout dating
high ambivalence
couples often younger
higher network resistance (parents)
Accelerated Pathway
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fast increase & some drop-off
low conflict throughout dating
low ambivalence, high compatibility
couples often older
less network resistance (parents)
Intermediate Pathway
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slow, but consistent increase
low conflict throughout dating
low ambivalence, high compatibility
couples often older
less network resistance (parents)
Cohabitation
 Changed from taboo to almost
normative
 Unclear effects on relationship
 If any, small effect on earlier dissolutions
 “marriage in training?”
 union duration hypothesis?
Cohabitation: Conceptual difficulties
 What relationship type is it?
 Premarital
 Pseudomarital
 Alternative to marriage
 Is it an in dependent or dependent
variable?
 Does it affect people?
 Do people affect it?
Marital Success
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Stability criterion
Satisfaction criterion
Adjustment criterion
Socialization criterion
Other alternative criteria
Communication and Marital success
 Usually based on
adjustment/satisfaction criteria
 Association of behaviors & practices
with adjustment/satisfaction
 Often conceptualized as relationship
maintenance
Relationship Maintenance
(Stafford et al.)
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Assurance
Openness
Conflict Management
Shared Tasks
Positivity
Advice
Network
Relationship Maintenance
Behaviors
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Self-Disclosure & Sharing
Expressing positive affect verbally
Nonverbal Affect
Joint Activities
Conflict Behaviors
 Problem solving
 Repair work
 Acceptance of differences
Midterm 1
 Mean = 80.24
 Range: 55-99
 Distribution
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> 90
80- 89
70- 79
60- 69
< 59
= 13
= 22
= 17
=4
=2
Marriage Beliefs
 Marriages are determined by 3
underlying beliefs
 ideology
 interdependence
 conflict style (avoidance)
Dimensions of Marriage Types
 Interdependence
 physically, temporally & psychologically
 Ideology
 beliefs, standards & values
 conventional - unconventional
 Conflict
 total avoidance - active & open
engagement
Marriage Types
 Traditional
 conventional ideology, high conflict,
high interdependence
 Independent
 unconventional ideology, high conflict,
high interdependence
 Separate
 conventional ideology, low conflict, low
interdependence
Marriage Types & Communication
 Differences in Marital Communication
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emotional expressiveness
instrumental tendencies
language use & speech code use
attention, acquiescence, presumption
NVB: gaze, adaptors, dysfluencies, focus
Traditionals’ Communication
 high internal self-disclosure &
openness
 high couple references
 medium linguistic complexity
 medium linguistic elaboration
Independents’ Communication
 external & internal self-disclosure &
openness
 high couple references
 medium linguistic complexity
 high linguistic elaboration
Separates’ Communication
 low internal & more external selfdisclosure & openness
 low couple references
 low linguistic complexity
 low/medium linguistic elaboration
Gottman’s Theory
 “…a lasting marriage results from a
couple’s ability to resolve the conflicts
that are inevitable in any
relationship.”
 Three Marriage Types
 validating
 volatile
 avoiding
Conflict Styles (Gottman)
 Validating
 communication centered, empathetic,
collaborating
 Volatile
 problem centered, egocentric,
competitive
 Avoiding
 minimizing, egocentric, avoiding
Magic Ratio (5:1)
 Marriages are stable as long as
positive events outnumber negative
events 5:1
 Magic Ratio the same for all types of
marriages
Marriage Types and Conflict
 Traditionals = validators
 validate each other, problem solvers
 Independents=volatile
 emotional, expressive, like to fight
 Separates=avoiders
 usually don’t bother to complain
Parent-Child Communication
 Three approaches
 Unidirectional
 Bidirectional
 Systems
Unidirectional Approach
 Parents’ Behavior determines Child
outcomes
 Two Dimensions
 Warmth
 Control
Socialization by parents
 Socialization is based on teaching and
modeling
 Socialization is completed when selfregulation replaces other-regulation
Person Centered
Communication
 The use of an elaborated code that
focuses on motivations, feelings, and
intentions of individuals and their
distinct psychological perspectives.
Position Centered
Communication
 The use of a restricted code that
focuses on the identities of others
based on conventionally defined
social roles and the rules & norms
that govern behavior in specific
contexts.
Parenting Styles (Baumrind)
 Authoritative
 Firm control & warmth, person-centered
 Authoritarian
 Controlling, low warmth, position-centered
 Permissive
 Moderate warmth, low control, low
regulation
Parenting Styles (Baumrind)
Authoritative
Warmth
Permissive
Neglecting
Control
Authoritarian
Bidirectional Approach
 Both parents & children are
predisposed to interact with one
another
 Both parents & children are similarly
influential on how they communicate
 Parent-child interactions are linked to
child development in intelligence,
social skill, & language acquisition
Infant behavior eliciting
parental responses

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Gaze
Smiling
Distress-Discomfort
Crying
Avoidance
Motherese
 Facial Expressions
 Vocalizations
 Gaze
Systems Approach
 Family members affected by “Roles”
 Father
 Mother
 Son Daughter
 Dyads within families affect communication




Coalitions
Spill-over
Scapegoating
Triangulation
 External events affect communication
Siblings
 Structural Types
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


Full
Half
Step
Adoptive
Fictional
 Behavioral Types
 Reciprocal
 Complementary
 No relationship
Factors in Sibling Relationships





Age differential
Sex
Birth order
Parental preferences
Parental involvement
 Especially in conflict
Positive Effects of Siblings
 More child-focused families
 Mutual socialization
 Mutual care giving & support
Negative Effects of Siblings






Competition & Rivalry
Violent Conflict
More demands on parents
Disruption of existing relationships
More punitive parenting
Demand on economic resources
Adult Sibling Relationships
 Important relationship (66%)
 Frequent Contact (60% +)
 Curvilinear relationships
 Factors Determining Contact





proximity
family size
sex
other interpersonal relationships
SES & culture
 Little Effect on Well Being
Grandparents & Grandchildren
 Increasingly Relevant Relationship (in
50% of families)
 Factors Determining Contact




proximity
age of grandparents & grandchildren
gender of grandparents
grandparent - parent relationship
Styles of Grandparenting
 Normative





formal
fun seeking
surrogate parent
reservoir of family wisdom
distant
 Nonnormative
 primary caretakers
 divorced
 step-grandparents
Grandparenting Types
 Influential
 Very similar to parents
 Supportive
 Involved w/o discipline
 Passive
 Moderate, positive involvement
 Authority oriented
 Moderate, discipline oriented involvement
 Detached
 uninvolved
Theories of Grandparenting
 Relational Solidarity




Accommodation
Perceptions of kindness
Grandchildren’s involvement
Grandparents’ story telling
 Intergenrational Stakes Hypothesis
Parents & Adult Children
 High Contact (80%+)
 Factors Determining Contact
 proximity
 affection (parent’s more than child’s)
 Neediness (of children)
 Effects of Contact
 positive for children
 no effects for parents
Socioemotional Selectivity
Motivation
Emotion
regulation
Self-Concept
Information
seeking
Age
Family Stressors
 Events that require change in family
systems
 Normative vs. Nonnormative
 Morphogenesis vs. Morphostasis
 Temporary vs. Permanent
 Voluntary vs. Involuntary
Stress Levels
 I: Changing role expectations and
rules
 II: Changing fundamentals in
relationships
 III: Changing basic assumptions
about family
ABC-X Model (Hill, 1949)
Resources (B)
Crisis (X)
Event (A)
Perceptions (C)
direct effects
interdependence
feedback
Double ABC-X Model
Resources (B)
Crisis (X)
Event (A)
Perceptions (C)
direct effects
interdependence
feedback
Family Coping
 Defined as adaptation of family
system in response to stressors
 Exist on continuum:
 Bonadaptation: change that enables
family to meet needs
 Maladaptation: change that leads family
to being unable to meet needs
Family Communication and Facilitation
Coping Strategies







Cognitive
Emotional
Relational
Communicative
Communal
Spiritual
Individually
Family Social Support
 Based on Appraisal Theory
 Primary appraisal: initial threat
 Secondary appraisal: assessment after
cognitive processing
 Social Support allows for a more
positive secondary appraisal
Types of Social Support
 Emotional
 Reduces negative affect
 Allows for rational cognition/perception
 Instrumental
 Provides resources to cope with stressor
 Informational
 Enables secondary appraisal
 Provides access to other resources
Normative Family Stressors
 Changes that families are expected to
experience but that nonetheless
require family members to make
adjustments to how they relate to
one another
 Families & social support systems
anticipate change and are prepared
for it
Family Life Stages
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Couple w/o children
Couple with babies & preschoolers
Couple with school-age children
Couple with adolescent children
Couple launching children
Empty nest
Retired couple
Parenthood & Marital Satisfaction
 Changes in Marital Satisfaction
55
Satisfaction
54
53
52
Husbands
51
50
Wives
49
48
1
2
3
4
5
6
Family Life Stages
7
Explanations for Dissatisfaction
 Childrearing creates added stress
 Children draw attention away from
partner (esp. wives’ attention)
Alternative Explanations
 Parents/Nonparents differ in
satisfaction before parenthood
 Children prevent breakup of
dissatisfied couples
 Statistical artifacts
 cross-sectional research
Marital Behaviors & Parenthood
 Division of Labor
 Leisure & Companionship
 Socioemotional Behavior
Division of Labor
 More housework for both partners
 men: 1.9 --> 8.3
 women: 3.9 --> 28
 Impact on satisfaction
 men: less satisfied with division of labor
& with marriage
 women: recently married less satisfied
with division of labor, no effect on marital
satisfaction
Leisure & Companionship
 Less time spend on couple-activities
 Change in doing preferred activities
 men: less preferred activities
 women: more preferred activities
 Consequences:
 less satisfaction with activities for both
 no effect on overall marital satisfaction
Socioemotional Behavior




Less time spend as couple
No change in affection
No change in negative behavior
No changes in marital satisfaction
Parenthood-Satisfaction Model
Parenthood
-
-
-
+
0
0
Leisure/
Companionship
Div. of Labor
0
0
0
MaritalSatisfaction
Socioemotional
0
0
Midterm 2
 Mean = 82.19
 Range: 55-100
 Distribution




> 90
80- 89
70- 79
55- 69
= 23
= 18
= 13
=3
Non-Normative Family Stressors
 Unexpected changes that require
family members to make adjustments
to how they relate to one another
 Families are not prepared for changes
and often do not how to deal with
them
 Families are unaware of (or unwilling
to use) external resources that could
help them
Marital Distress
 Unexpected deterioration of
relationship
 Associated with Communication




Negativity & negative affect
Negative perceptions & attributions
Demand-withdrawal
Other negative nonverbal comm.
Temporary Separation
 Marital noncohabitation
 Military deployment
 Incarceration
 Employment
 Outcomes affected by:
 Perceptions of control
 Ability to maintain contact/intimacy
 Profoundness of change in relationships
Responding to non-normative
stress
 Based on your knowledge &
experiences, what would you
recommend people do who face nonnormative stressors, particularly in
terms of communication.
Divorce in America
 Today, marriages have 50% likelihood
of divorce within 20 years
 Steady increase 1930-1960
 Dramatic increase 1960-1970s
 Stable rate since 1980s
50
40
30
1920
1940
1960
1980
2000
Societal Factors




Women’s liberation
Economic independence of women
Change of cultural values
Changes in legal system
Individual Risk Factors









Young Age (+)
Premarital pregnancy (+)
Children (-)
Premarital cohabitation (+)
Parental divorce (+)
SES (-)
Unrealistic and idealized notions (+)
Remarriage (+)
Religiosity (-)
Marital Interaction & Divorce
 Satisfaction is poor predictor
 Amount of conflict poor predictor
 Type of Conflict matters
 Productive conflict:




Validators
Volatile
Avoidant
Magic Ratio= 5:1
Constructive Conflict
(Notarius & Markman, 1993)
 More likely with:
 Listening talk
 Positive problem
talk
 Less likely with:
 Negative problem
talk
 Negative solution
talk
 Mindreading
 Critical Talk
Four Apocalyptical Horsemen




Criticism
Defensiveness
Contempt
Stonewalling
Criticism
 complaint about other that involves
attack on personality and/or
character
 often done when upset
Defensiveness
 rejection of other’s complaint or
criticism, including





denying responsibility & making excuses
rejecting mind-reading
reflect criticism & cross-complaining
repeating & whining
nonverbals that make similar points
Contempt
 similar to criticism, but with the
intent to insult and psychologically
abuse other including




insult & name calling
hostile humor
name calling
contemptuous nonverbals
Stonewalling
 withdrawal during intense conflict
 being unable to communicate with
other
Distance & Isolation Cascade





Flooding (Stonewalling)
Perception of Severe Marital Problems
Decision to work out SMP individually
Separation (Independence)
Loneliness (Isolation)
Divorce and Children
 Outcomes for children




poorer psychological adjustment
poorer peer & familial relationships
lower SES attainment
less marital stability
Three Perspectives
 Parental Absence
 Economic Disadvantage
 Family Conflict
Outcomes due to Divorce
 lower SES
 social stigma
 interrupted relationship to parent(s)
Outcomes due to Conflict
 lack of problem solving skills
 loyalty conflicts
 learning of aggression/hostility
 loss of affection/respect for parent(s)
 disruption of parent-child relationship
!! all these outcomes depend on HOW
conflict is handled !!
Deciding to Divorce
(based on child’s interest)
 For:
 if conflict is intense, frequent, violent, &
destructive
 if triangulation, detouring, &
scapegoating
 Against:
 if conflict is constructive
Post-Divorce Relationships




Frequency of contact declines
Content of interactions declines
Quality of interactions increases
Interactions have no effect on life
satisfaction
Identity Formation in PDR
 Divorce requires a redefinition of
identity
 Factors facilitating redefinition
increase satisfaction
 Factors inhibiting redefinition
decrease satisfaction
Remarriage
 75% of divorcees remarry
 With similar satisfaction
 But, have higher divorce rate





Divorce-prone personality hypothesis
Training school hypothesis
Willingness to divorce hypothesis
Dysfunctional beliefs hypothesis
Remarriage market hypothesis
Remarriage and other relationships
 Ex-spouse
 Conflicted relationships with ex carries
into new marriage
 Lingering attachment interferes with new
marriage
 Childcare arrangements affect marriage
 Networks
 Acceptance of new spouse by network
critical
Step Families
 Marriage with children where at least
one parent is not a biological parent
 Affect about 30% of children
 Will affect about 50% of Americans at
some point in life
Step-Family Development
 The process of negotiating &
adjusting to new family relationships
 Different trajectories





Accelerated (31%)
Prolonged (27%)
Stagnating (14%)
Declining (6%)
Turbulent (22%)
Stepchild’s perception of family
 Retention (33%)
 Birth family is family
 Substitution (13%)
 Stepparent replaces noncustodial parent
 Reduction (25%)
 One birthparent & children are family
 Augmentation (28%)
 Biological & stepparent are parents
Stepparenting
 Often difficult relationships between
stepparents and children
 Stepparents see themselves as
parents
 Stepchildren see them as friends/foes
 Relationships often deteriorate
 Relationship often lacks attachment
Challenges of Stepfamilies





Problematic relationships
Negotiating (new?) relationships
Conflict and conflict styles
Fallout from previous marriage
Interference from other parent
Tips for Papers
 Situating paper in context of course
 Theoretical approach
 Topic area
 Literature Review
 Should be holistic (unifying & recurring
themes, commonalities and differences)
 Do NOT summarize individual articles
 Critical Evaluation
 Validity
 utility
APA Styles
 Is a formal, scientific style of writing
 No contractions, slang, directly
addressing the reader, etc.
 Consistent appearance
 Everything double spaced, all same font
size, all same font except italics
 Headings organize paper
 Facts matter, not opinions
 Support claims with evidence
In text references
 According to Smith and Miller (2001),
families with two or more children...
 Families with two or more children
are more conflicted (Smith & Miller,
2001).
 Paraphrase, do not quote unless it
cannot be paraphrased
 If quote, then p# (Miller, 2001, p.13)
References
 Ritchie, D.L. (1991). Family communication
patterns: An epistemic analysis and
conceptual reinterpretation. Communication
Research, 18, 548-565.
 Reiss, D. (1981). The family's construction of
reality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press.
 McLeod, J. M., & Chaffee, S. H. (1972). The
construction of social reality. In J. Tedeschi
(Ed.), The social influence process (pp. 5059). Chicago, IL: Aldine-Atherton.
Family Communication and
Mental Health
 Mental Health problems pervasive
(50%)
 Long Tradition linking family and
mental health (e.g. Freud)
 Communication and Mental Health
are interdependent
Mental Illnesses associated with
Family Communication





Depression
Loneliness
Schizophrenia
Eating disorders
Alcoholism/Drug addiction
Depression
 Most common mental health issue
 10-25% for women
 5-12% for men
 Associated with Communication






More negative affect (incl. hostility & anger)
More blaming & arguments
Less problem solving
Less intimacy
Less positive affect & reciprocity
Rejection & negative parenting
Family’s contribution to depression
 Families of Origin
 Unresponsive parenting
 Genetic predisposition
 Families of Orientation/Marriages
 Lack of coherence & agency
 Emotional dysregulation
 Responses that reinforce depressed
behaviors
Families & Loneliness
 Defined: Less social interaction than
desired (quantity & quality )
 Indicator of relationship quality
 Families of Origin contribution
 Lack of cohesion/social support
 Parental loneliness
 Parental overinvolvement
Family and Schizophrenia
 Defined: A severe mental illness
characterized by difficulty
comprehending social world
 Family communication causally
related to schizophrenia
 Deterministically
 Interacting with vulnerability (genetic
predisposition, drug use, etc.)
Communication Causes
 Communication Deviance
 Odd, idiosyncratic, illogical, fragmented
 Expressed Emotion
 Intrusiveness, anger, criticism, &
intolerance
 Affective Style
 Support, criticism, guilt induction, &
intrusiveness
Mid-Term 3
 Mean = 73
 Range: 48-99
 Distribution
 > 90 = 7
 80-89 = 15
 70-79 = 26
 60-69 = 7
 < 60 = 2
Family and Eating Disorders
 Common Disorders
 Anorexia: refusal to maintain weight
 Bulimia: binge eating & compensation
 Associated with family of origin




Chaos and low cohesions
Control issues
Boundary issues (e.g., Sexual abuse)
Food issues & Parental modeling
Family and Alcoholism
 Alcoholism
 Abuse: maladaptive use of alcohol
 Dependency: abuse plus withdrawal
 Family Contribution
 Curvilinear association between alcohol
use and communication quality
 Reinforcing behavior by family members
 Family system is alcoholic
Alcoholism and Relationships
 Marriages
 Nonalcoholic partner compensates
 Nonalcoholic partner more distressed
 Alcoholism ultimately reduced marital
functioning & satisfaction
 Children
 Manifold negative outcomes for children
 Difficult to isolate role of alcoholism
 Many children are resiliant
Family Comm. & Health
 Marriage associated with Health
 Selection hypothesis
 Healthier people marry and stay married
 Protection hypothesis
 Marriage = healthier lifestyle
 Partners look out for each other
 Positive Communication Hypothesis
Communication and Physiology
 Conflict and Stress
 Negative interaction = stress
 Hostility = stress
 Negative effects of Stress
 Cardiovascular system
 Immune system
 Ergo: Marital Conflict leads to
physical health problems
 Positive marital communication leads
to good health (?)
Family Comm. & Child Health
 Parental Conflict and psychosomatic
symptoms in children
 Children externalize
 Children distract parents thru illness
 Parenting and Drug/alcohol abuse
 High control & low warmth/support
 Parental Modeling
Family Comm. & Sexual Health
 Open & supportive communication:
 Delayed sexual behavior
 Increased use of contraceptions
 Increased use of condoms
 Explanations:
 Child self-esteem and control
 Better knowledge of values
 Knowledge of parental expectations
Family Violence & Abuse
 Family relationships are most (only)
violent relationships
 Siblings
 64% violence, 36% severe violence
 Parent-Child
 34% & 11% (~100% for children < 3)
 0.5 % sexually abused, 3% neglected
 Marriages
 16% & 8 %
Courtship & Marital Violence
similar types of violence
similar explanations for violence
intimacy related to violence
50% of married victims were victims
in dating relationships
 29% of victims maltreated as
children, 50% observed parental
violence




Conclusions from Study
 Victims of spousal abuse often have
history of abuse during dating &
childhood
 Marital & Courtship violence are very
similar
 Should conceptualize Relationship
Violence
Codependence
 Behavior of functional partner that
enables other’s dependency
 Enabeling behavior
 controlling
 nurturing
 relationship maintenance
Inconsistent Nurturing as Control
 Functional partner controls dependent
through intermittent nurturing
 Based on Learning Theory
 nurturing is rewarding
 withholding nurturing is used to punish
dependent (neg. reinforcement)
 intermittent rewards reinforce behavior
Assumptions of INC
 Learning Theory is accurate
 Withholding nurturing only available
punishment to functional partner
 Functional partner is weak:
 low self-esteem
 low Clalt
 no other resources
Conclusions re. Codependence
 Abuse & dependency of one partner
are affected by dyadic processes
 Codependents contribute to abuse &
dependency thru enabeling behavior
 Change in the codependent’s
behavior can and does effect change
in the behavior of the
abuser/dependent
Child-Abuse as Miscommunication
 Abuse = discipline take too far
 Family communication:




Low cohesion & low flexibility
High conformity & low conversation
authoritarian parenting
Position centered messages
Theoretical explanations
 Social learning
 Dysfunctional systems
 Stress & coping
 Resources & cultural expectations
 Social cognition
 Unrealistic & rigid expectations
 Attachment
Sexual Abuse
 High association with physical abuse
 Similar explanations
 Unique factors
 Boundary confusion
 Role confusion
Improving Family Communication
 Often, communication erodes
 Prevention better than repair
 Primary: education for well functioning
families
 Secondary: intervention for at-risk
families
 Tertiary: intervention/repair during &
after crisis
Primary Prevention
 Education & communication skills
training
 ~50% of couples do premarital prep.
 Little evidence for effectiveness, but
greater chance to seek help in crisis
 PREP: general skills training
 PREPARE: diagnosis & skills training
Secondary Prevention
 Marital enrichment & training
 Marriage Encounter:
 Emphasis on intimacy thru self-disclosure
 Peer-lead, faith based workshops
 Couples Communication Program
 Focus on communication skills &
awareness of self & other
Secondary Prevention
 Parent Training
 STEP:




Emphasis on understanding child behavior
Teach skills appropriate to child goals
Focus on effort rather than outcome
Teaching thru natural consequences
 Behavioral Parent Training
 Based on learning theories
 Reinforcement = reward good behavior
 Time-outs & modeling
Tertiary Prevention
 Behavioral & Cognitive-Behavioral
 Based on assumption that
couples/families reinforce behaviors
 Teaches rewarding behaviors
 Teaches cognitive restructuring
 Structural Family Therapy
 Structure crucial for functioning
 Structure changes during life-stages
 Issues: boundaries, power & alignment
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COMM 4471: Communication in Marriage and Family