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Temporal and situational dynamics of dyadic verbal communication in intimate relationships across the lifespan


Neysari, Mona. Temporal and situational dynamics of dyadic verbal communication in intimate relationships across the lifespan. 2017, University of Zurich, Faculty of Arts.

Abstract

Communication is the most important part of any functional relationship. In order to have an effective communication, it needs to be adapted to the temporal and situational demands of the dyadic interactions. The present thesis focuses on temporal and situational dynamics of dyadic verbal communication in a conflict situation and in two dyadic coping situations in couples. These temporal and situational dynamics are then investigated in the lifespan context. Process-oriented theories suggest specific chains of behaviors depending on time and the situation in dyadic interactions to be good for a successful communication in couples (Bodenmann, 2005; Gottman, 1979). Studies that investigate these dyadic interactions mostly focus on between-couple differences. Also studies that focus on aging and intimate relationship mostly compare the average behaviors of couples of different ages across the interactions. This dissertation investigates these dyadic processes as suggested by theory with focusing on temporal and situational changes in couples’ verbal communication. Throughout this dissertation, to study dyadic verbal communication the focus is on the use of personal pronouns (i.e. I words, you words and we words), which have been found to be meaningful measures to investigate psychological processes, such as self-disclosure and togetherness in relationships. The first study examines the temporal dynamics of dyadic verbal communication by investigating couples’ use of personal pronouns in a conflict situation. The first assumption of this study was that temporal changes of pronoun use over the course of a conflict interaction are aligned with the suggested segmentation of dyadic conflict interactions in the agenda-building, argue and negotiation phases (Gottman, 1979). Further, it was explored whether these temporal dynamics of verbal communication differ between couples from different age groups. To test these assumptions, pronoun use by 360 couples from three different age groups (young, middle-aged and old) in an eight-minute conflict interaction was observed and tested using multilevel models for longitudinal dyadic data. The statistical tests con- firmed our assumption, showing that the temporal dynamics of pronoun use reflect the within-dyad processes in a conflict interaction and that these temporal dynamics differ between couples from different age groups.
The main aim of the second paper was to examine the temporal dynamics of couples’ pronoun use in two dyadic coping situations. Similar to the first study, it was assumed that the pronoun use of couples over the time of a dyadic coping interaction follows specific patterns, which reflect the dyadic processes in coping situations as suggested by Bodenmann (2005). In addition, it is assumed that the situational characteristics of each interaction (being the stress communicator or the support provider) require adaptation of verbal communication to the specific situation. To tests these assumptions, use of I words, your words and we words of 360 couples in two eight-minutes dyadic coping interactions were investigated. In this study, each partner is once the stress communicator (talking about his/her stress topic) and the other time the support provider (showing support efforts and providing support to the partner). Results of multilevel models for longitudinal dyadic data confirmed our assumptions. Results showed that pronoun use by couples across different situations follows patterns that suggest, optimally dyadic coping interactions start with disclosure of the stress communicator (higher word count, higher use of I words and we words), followed by supportive efforts of the support providers (higher word count in the second half of the interaction, more frequent use of you words). Finally, in the third study it was tested whether the temporal and situational dynamics of verbal communication in dyadic coping interactions change depending on the age of the partners. To test the associations between age and these dynamic processes, use of personal pronouns by couples (age 20 - 80) with a large range of age has been tested in two dyadic coping interactions, where dyads changed their role after the first dyadic coping interaction. Results of multilevel models for longitudinal dyadic data showed different patterns of temporal change depending on the situation and also depending on the age. In summary, higher age was associated with less variation of verbal communication over time, less use of I words, less use of your words and higher frequency of use of we words. These results can be interpreted as less involvement of older couples in the communication that is related to stress and more communal perspective in dealing with stressful situations. Results of this dissertation showed that investigating the temporal and the situational dynamics of couples’ verbal communication is a promising way to study the dyadic processes in intimate relationships. This dissertation ends with a general discussion and outlook on future research.

Abstract

Communication is the most important part of any functional relationship. In order to have an effective communication, it needs to be adapted to the temporal and situational demands of the dyadic interactions. The present thesis focuses on temporal and situational dynamics of dyadic verbal communication in a conflict situation and in two dyadic coping situations in couples. These temporal and situational dynamics are then investigated in the lifespan context. Process-oriented theories suggest specific chains of behaviors depending on time and the situation in dyadic interactions to be good for a successful communication in couples (Bodenmann, 2005; Gottman, 1979). Studies that investigate these dyadic interactions mostly focus on between-couple differences. Also studies that focus on aging and intimate relationship mostly compare the average behaviors of couples of different ages across the interactions. This dissertation investigates these dyadic processes as suggested by theory with focusing on temporal and situational changes in couples’ verbal communication. Throughout this dissertation, to study dyadic verbal communication the focus is on the use of personal pronouns (i.e. I words, you words and we words), which have been found to be meaningful measures to investigate psychological processes, such as self-disclosure and togetherness in relationships. The first study examines the temporal dynamics of dyadic verbal communication by investigating couples’ use of personal pronouns in a conflict situation. The first assumption of this study was that temporal changes of pronoun use over the course of a conflict interaction are aligned with the suggested segmentation of dyadic conflict interactions in the agenda-building, argue and negotiation phases (Gottman, 1979). Further, it was explored whether these temporal dynamics of verbal communication differ between couples from different age groups. To test these assumptions, pronoun use by 360 couples from three different age groups (young, middle-aged and old) in an eight-minute conflict interaction was observed and tested using multilevel models for longitudinal dyadic data. The statistical tests con- firmed our assumption, showing that the temporal dynamics of pronoun use reflect the within-dyad processes in a conflict interaction and that these temporal dynamics differ between couples from different age groups.
The main aim of the second paper was to examine the temporal dynamics of couples’ pronoun use in two dyadic coping situations. Similar to the first study, it was assumed that the pronoun use of couples over the time of a dyadic coping interaction follows specific patterns, which reflect the dyadic processes in coping situations as suggested by Bodenmann (2005). In addition, it is assumed that the situational characteristics of each interaction (being the stress communicator or the support provider) require adaptation of verbal communication to the specific situation. To tests these assumptions, use of I words, your words and we words of 360 couples in two eight-minutes dyadic coping interactions were investigated. In this study, each partner is once the stress communicator (talking about his/her stress topic) and the other time the support provider (showing support efforts and providing support to the partner). Results of multilevel models for longitudinal dyadic data confirmed our assumptions. Results showed that pronoun use by couples across different situations follows patterns that suggest, optimally dyadic coping interactions start with disclosure of the stress communicator (higher word count, higher use of I words and we words), followed by supportive efforts of the support providers (higher word count in the second half of the interaction, more frequent use of you words). Finally, in the third study it was tested whether the temporal and situational dynamics of verbal communication in dyadic coping interactions change depending on the age of the partners. To test the associations between age and these dynamic processes, use of personal pronouns by couples (age 20 - 80) with a large range of age has been tested in two dyadic coping interactions, where dyads changed their role after the first dyadic coping interaction. Results of multilevel models for longitudinal dyadic data showed different patterns of temporal change depending on the situation and also depending on the age. In summary, higher age was associated with less variation of verbal communication over time, less use of I words, less use of your words and higher frequency of use of we words. These results can be interpreted as less involvement of older couples in the communication that is related to stress and more communal perspective in dealing with stressful situations. Results of this dissertation showed that investigating the temporal and the situational dynamics of couples’ verbal communication is a promising way to study the dyadic processes in intimate relationships. This dissertation ends with a general discussion and outlook on future research.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Dissertation (monographical)
Referees:Martin Mike, Bodenmann Guy, Scholz Urte
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
UZH Dissertations
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Place of Publication:Zürich
Date:2017
Deposited On:02 May 2018 12:11
Last Modified:27 Mar 2020 16:54
Number of Pages:91
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Related URL. An embargo period may apply.
Related URLs:https://www.recherche-portal.ch/permalink/f/5u2s2l/ebi01_prod011142757 (Library Catalogue)

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