Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 91–113 | Cite as

Nonverbal communication between parents and adolescents: A study of approach and avoidance behaviors

  • Patricia E. Kahlbaugh
  • Jeannette M. Haviland


This study investigated nonverbal approach and avoidance behaviors exhibited by 30 families with a target child between 7 and 16 years old during a family interaction task. It was hypothesized that avoidance in the form of shame and contempt would be displayed more frequently by early and mid-adolescents than by younger pre-adolescents. It was also expected that approach behaviors would not differ across these age groups. Results provided evidence for increased avoidance and stability of approach behaviors in the parent-child dyad from pre-adolescence to mid-adolescence. Compared to pre-adolescent children (7–10), early adolescents (11–13) displayed more avoidance behaviors toward their parents, particularly shame. Both older adolescents (14–16) and their parents displayed increased avoidance in the form of reciprocated contempt. Despite increased avoidance in adolescence, no age group differences emerged in the amount of approach displayed between mothers, fathers, and children. This dynamic of attachment and separation occurred in both mother-child and father-child dyads, suggesting that both parents play an important role in the adolescent's developing autonomy.


Social Psychology Early Adolescent Avoidance Behavior Nonverbal Communication Family Interaction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia E. Kahlbaugh
    • 1
  • Jeannette M. Haviland
  1. 1.Neuropsychiatric Institute, 68-237UCLALos Angeles

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