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Conversations between friends: Age and context differences in the development of nonverbal communication in preadolescence

Koterba, Erin A. (2010) Conversations between friends: Age and context differences in the development of nonverbal communication in preadolescence. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Adults communicate using a variety of nonverbal behaviors, but not all of these behaviors are commonly used by children. When do children transition to using nonverbal means to communicate more like adults? Though there is some evidence such change occurs during the preadolescent period, no single study has examined change in the use of nonverbal behaviors across this age range. Further, though the peer context is increasingly important to the developing preadolescent, conversations with friends have been largely overlooked as a context for children's developing nonverbal communication. This study aimed to address these gaps in the literature by providing a descriptive picture of children's use of three nonverbal behaviors, gesture, eye gaze, and facial expressions, during dyadic interaction with a friend. Particular emphasis was placed on the use of behaviors that are typical of adult conversation, such as abstract gestures and looking at a partner while the partner is speaking. Thirty-three children were observed interacting with a same-sex peer in two settings (planning an event and sharing a snack) longitudinally in 4th and 6th grade. The production of children's gesture, gaze, and facial expressions was recorded. Results indicated that use of the majority of communicative behaviors, particularly those behaviors that are common in adult interactions, increased across the preadolescent period. However, there were context effects, such that different patterns of developmental change emerged in planning and conversation settings. These findings suggest that, though communication is sensitive to changing contexts, preadolescent children produce behaviors typical of adult interactions with increasing frequency by the end of this period. Much like other systems, then, the nonverbal system appears to change during preadolescence.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Koterba, Erin A.eaw23@pitt.eduEAW23
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairIverson, Jana Mjiverson@pitt.eduJIVERSON
Committee MemberJohnson, Carljohnson@pitt.eduJOHNSON
Committee MemberBrownell, Celiabrownell@pitt.eduBROWNELL
Committee MemberVotruba-al, Elizabethevotruba@pitt.eduEVOTRUBA
Committee MemberCampbell, Susansbcamp@pitt.eduSBCAMP
Date: 30 September 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 19 April 2010
Approval Date: 30 September 2010
Submission Date: 28 May 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: conversation; eye gaze; facial expressions; gesture; nonverbal communication; preadolescence
Other ID:, etd-05282010-145913
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:46
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:44


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