An Analysis of Turn Transitions and Conversational Motifs in Parent-Adolescent Emotion-Focused Interactions

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Communication Methods and Measures




Informed by the dynamic dyadic systems perspective on analyzing conversational data, this study uses sequence analysis to illuminate turn patterns that characterize parents’ emotion coaching/dismissing communication and adolescents’ emotion regulation/dysregulation in conversations about an emotionally evocative event. This study analyzed two conversations from 60 parent-adolescent dyads, 30 with harmful parental alcohol use and 30 without, where the adolescent described recent events that elicited positive and negative feelings. Using configural frequency analysis, we identified turn sequences that were over- and under-represented in the data, and we compared the prevalence of different turn sequences between families with harmful and non-harmful alcohol use. Then, using sequence analysis, we identified conversational motifs that reflect different patterns of parental communication and adolescent emotion regulation in conversation. Three conversational motifs emerged in conversations about negative emotions: (a) information sharing, (b) emotion regulating, and (c) reactive. Conversations about positive emotions revealed two conversational motifs: (a) emotion regulating and (b) information sharing. In addition, the conversational motifs were examined as predictors of adolescents’ post- interaction appraisals of their own emotion regulation and their parent’s responsiveness and control during the conversation. Findings point to the utility of sequence analysis for documenting patterns of interaction in parent-adolescent emotion-focused conversations.


Communication Studies