A Sequential Analysis of Depressive Behaviors Within Adolescent Peer Interactions

  • Michelle C. Heller
  • Junko Tanaka-Matsumi


This study examined depressive and positive patterns of interactions among clinical and nonclinical adolescent peers within an interpersonal context. Ten clinical dyads with a depressed partner and 10 nonclinical dyads engaged in 16-min audiotaped conversations under positive and negative task instructions discussing positive and negative experiences. Conversations were unitized and coded according to depressive, aggressive, positive, and neutral behaviors. The clinical dyad-group demonstrated over two times more depressive behaviors than did the nonclinical dyad-group. Both dyad-groups exhibited increased depressive interactions during negative task instructions and increased positive interaction during positive task instructions. The loglinear approach to sequential analysis demonstrated significant overall bidirectional influence in the adolescents' dyadic interaction. Specifically, we found that the depressed adolescents' depressive behaviors decreased the likelihood of partners' aggressive behaviors, and increased the likelihood of partners' positive behaviors. Clinical and nonclinical dyad-groups showed reliable patterns of positive interaction sequences. Results demonstrate that depressive and positive behaviors are functional in adolescent dyadic interaction.

adolescence depression clinical dyads 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allison, P. D., & Liker, J. K. (1982). Analyzing sequential categorical data on dyadic interaction: A comment on Gottman. Psychological Bulletin, 91, 393-403.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  3. Bakeman, R., & Gottman, J. M. (1986). Observing Interaction: An Introduction to Sequential Analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bakeman, R., & Quera, V. (1995a). Log-linear approaches to lag-sequential analysis when consecutive codes may and cannot repeat. Psychological Bulletin, 118, 272-284.Google Scholar
  5. Bakeman, R., & Quera, V. (1995b). Analyzing Interaction: Sequential Analysis with SDIS and GSEQ. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Baker, M., Milich, R., & Manolis, M. B. (1996). Peer interactions of dysphoric adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 24, 241-255.Google Scholar
  7. Beck, A. T., Ward, C. H., Mendelson, M., Mock, J., & Erbaugh, J. (1961). An inventory for measuring depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 4, 561-571.Google Scholar
  8. Belsher, G., & Costello, C. G. (1991). Do confidants of depressed women provide less social support than confidants of nondepressed women? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 516-525.Google Scholar
  9. Biglan, A. (1991). Distressed behavior and its context. The Behavior Analyst, 14, 157-169.Google Scholar
  10. Biglan, A., Hops, H., Sherman, L., Friedman, L., Arthur, J., & Osteen, V. (1985). Problem-solving interactions of depressed women and their husbands. Behavior Therapy, 16, 431-451.Google Scholar
  11. Burchill, S. A. L., & Stiles, W. B. (1988). Interactions of depressed college students with their roommates: Not necessarily negative. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 410-419.Google Scholar
  12. Capaldi, D. M. (1992). Co-occurrence of conduct problems and depressive symptoms in early adolescent boys: II. A 2-year follow-up at Grade 8. Development and Psychopathology, 4, 125-144.Google Scholar
  13. Chambers, W. J., Puig-Antich, J., Hirsch, M., Paez, P., Ambrosini, P. J., Tabrizi, M. A., & Davies, M. (1985). The assessment of affective disorders in children and adolescents by semistructured interview. Archives of General Psychiatry, 42, 696-702.Google Scholar
  14. Cohen, J. A. (1960). A coefficient of agreement for nominal scales. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 20, 37-46.Google Scholar
  15. Conger, J. C., & Farrell, A. D. (1981). Behavioral components of heterosocial skills. Behavior Therapy, 12, 41-55.Google Scholar
  16. Connolly, J., Geller, S., Marton, P., & Kutcher, S. (1992). Peer responses to social interaction with depressed adolescents. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 21, 365-370.Google Scholar
  17. Cook, W. L., Asarnow, J. R., Goldstein, M. J., Marshall, V. G., & Weber, E. (1990). Motherchild dynamics in early-onset depression and childhood schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Development and Psychopathology, 2, 71-84.Google Scholar
  18. Coyne, J. C. (1976a). Depression and the response of others. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 85, 186-193.Google Scholar
  19. Coyne, J. C. (1976b). Toward an interactional description of depression. Psychiatry, 39, 28-40.Google Scholar
  20. Dadds, M. R., Sanders, M. R., Morrison, M., & Rebgetz, M. (1992). Childhood depression and conduct disorder: II. An analysis of family interaction patterns in the home. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 101, 505-513.Google Scholar
  21. Downey, G., & Coyne, J. C. (1990). Children of depressed parents: An integrative review. Psychological Bulletin, 108, 50-76.Google Scholar
  22. Gotlib, I. H., & Robinson, L. A. (1982). Responses to depressed individuals: Discrepancies between self-report and observer-rated behavior. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 91, 231-240.Google Scholar
  23. Gottman, J., & Mettetal, G. (1986). Speculations about social and affective development: Friendship and acquaintanceship through adolescence. In J. M. Gottman & J. G. Parker (Eds.), Conversations of Friends (pp. 192-237). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Gottman, J. M., & Roy, A. K. (1990). Sequential Analysis: A Guide for Behavioral Researchers. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Haberman, S. J. (1978). Analysis of Qualitative Data (Vol. 1). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  26. Haberman, S. J. (1979). Analysis of Qualitative Data (Vol. 2). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  27. Harrington, R., Fudge, H., Rutter, M., Pickles, A., & Hill, J. (1990). Adult outcomes of childhood and adolescent depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 47, 465-473.Google Scholar
  28. Heller, M. C., Sobel, M., & Tanaka-Matsumi, J. (1996). A functional analysis of verbal interactions of drug-exposed children and their mothers: The utility of sequential analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 52, 685-695.Google Scholar
  29. Hodgens, J. B., & McCoy, J. F. (1989). Distinctions among rejected children on the basis of peer-nominated aggression. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 18, 121-128.Google Scholar
  30. Hops, H., Biglan, A., Sherman, L., Arthur, J., Friedman, L., & Osteen, V. (1987). Home observations of family interactions of depressed women. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 341-346.Google Scholar
  31. Hops, H., Biglan, A., Tolman, A., Sherman, L., Arthur, J., Warner, P., Romano, J., Turner, J., Friedman, L., Bulcroft, R., Holcomb, C., Oostenink, N., & Osteen, V. (1990). Living in Family Environments Coding System: Training/Procedures and Reference Manual for Coders. (Rev. ed.). Eugene: Oregon Research Institute.Google Scholar
  32. Howes, M. J., & Hokanson, J. E. (1979). Conversational and social responses to depressive interpersonal behavior. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 88, 625-634.Google Scholar
  33. Iacobucci, D., & Wasserman, S. (1988). A general framework for the statistical analysis of sequential dyadic interaction data. Psychological Bulletin, 103, 379-390.Google Scholar
  34. Jacobson, N. S., & Anderson, E. A. (1982). Interpersonal skill and depression in college students: An analysis of the timing of self-disclosures. Behavior Therapy, 13, 271-282.Google Scholar
  35. Joiner, T. E., Jr., Katz, J., & Lew, A. S. (1997). Self-verification and depression among youth psychiatric inpatients. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 106, 608-618.Google Scholar
  36. Kashani, J. H., Beck, N. C., Hoeper, E. W., Fallahi, C., Corcoran, C. M., McAllister, J. A., Rosenberg, T. K., & Reid J. C. (1987). Psychiatric disorders in a community sample of adolescents. American Journal of Psychiatry, 144, 584-589.Google Scholar
  37. Kazdin, A. E. (1977). Assessing the clinical or applied importance of behavior change through social validation. Behavior Modification, 1, 427-452.Google Scholar
  38. Kenny, D. A., & LaVoie, L. (1984). The social relations model. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (pp. 141-182). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  39. Kovacs, M. (1980). Rating scales to assess depression in school-aged children. Acta Paedopsychiatria, 46, 305-315.Google Scholar
  40. Kovacs, M., Feinberg, T. L., Crouse-Novak, M., Paulauskas, S. L., Pollock, M., & Finkelstein, R. (1984). Depressive disorders in childhood. Archives of General Psychiatry, 41, 643-649.Google Scholar
  41. Larson, R. W., Raffaelli, M., Richards, M. H., Ham., M., & Jewell, L. (1990). Ecology of depression in late childhood and early adolescence: A profile of daily states and activities. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 99, 92-102.Google Scholar
  42. Levenson, R. W., & Gottman, J. M. (1983). Marital interaction: Physiological linkage and affective exchange. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 587-597.Google Scholar
  43. Lewinsohn, P. M. (1974). A behavioral approach to depression. In R. J. Friedman & M. Katz (Eds.), The Psychology of Depression: Contemporary Theory and Research. Washington, D.C.: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  44. Lewinsohn, P. M., Hops, H., Roberts, R. E., Seeley, J. R., & Andrews, J. A. (1993). Adolescent psychopathology: I. Prevalence and incidence of depression and other DSM-III-R disorders in high school students. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 102, 133-144.Google Scholar
  45. Lewinsohn, P. M., Roberts, R. E., Seeley, J. R., Rohde, P., Gotlib, I. H., & Hops, H. (1994). Adolescent psychopathology: II. Psychosocial risk factors for depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 103, 302-315.Google Scholar
  46. Libet, J. M., & Lewinsohn, P. M. (1973). Concept of social skill with special reference to the behavior of depressed persons. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 40, 304-312.Google Scholar
  47. Linden, M., Hautzinger, M., & Hoffmann, N. (1983). Discriminant analysis of depressive interactions. Behavior Modification, 7, 403-422.Google Scholar
  48. Messer, S. C., & Gross, A. M. (1995). Childhood depression and family interaction: A naturalistic observation study. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 24, 77-88.Google Scholar
  49. Mullins, L. L., Peterson, L., Wonderlich, S. A., & Reaven, N. M. (1986). The influence of depressive symptomatology in children on the social responses and perceptions of adults. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 15, 233-240.Google Scholar
  50. O'Connor, T. G., McGuire, S., Reiss, D., Hetherington, E. M., & Plomin, R. (1998). Co-occurrence of depressive symptoms and antisocial behavior in adolescence: A common genetic liability. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 107, 27-37.Google Scholar
  51. Patterson, G. R. (1982). Coercive Family Processes. Eugene: Castalia Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  52. Rohde, P., Lewinsohn, P. M., & Seeley, J. R. (1991). Comorbidity of unipolar depression: II. Comorbidity with other mental disorders in adolescents and adults. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 214-222.Google Scholar
  53. Rosenthal, R., & Rosnow, R. L. (1991). Essentials of Behavioral Research: Methods and Data Analysis (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  54. Sanders, M. R., Dadds, M. R., Johnston, B. M., & Cash, R. (1992). Childhood depression and conduct disorder: I. Behavioral, affective, and cognitive aspects of family problem-solving interactions. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 101, 495-504.Google Scholar
  55. Segrin, C., & Abramson, L. Y. (1994). Negative reactions to depressive behaviors: A communication theories analysis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 103, 655-668.Google Scholar
  56. Smucker, M. R., Craighead, W. E., Craighead, L. W., & Green, B. J. (1986). Normative and reliability data for the Children's Depression Inventory. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 14, 25-39.Google Scholar
  57. Strober, M., Green, J., & Carlson, G. (1981). Utility of the Beck Depression Inventory with psychiatrically hospitalized adolescents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 49, 482-483.Google Scholar
  58. Teri, L. (1982). The use of the Beck Depression Inventory with adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 10, 277-284.Google Scholar
  59. Vernberg, E. M. (1990). Psychological adjustment and experiences with peers during early adolescence: Reciprocal, incidental, or unidirectional relationships? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 18, 187-198.Google Scholar
  60. Willis, L. M., & Foster, S. L. (1990). Differences in children's peer sociometric and attribution ratings due to context and type of aggressive behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 18, 199-215.Google Scholar
  61. Youngren, M. A., & Lewinsohn, P. M. (1980). The functional relation between depression and problematic interpersonal behavior. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 89, 333-341.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle C. Heller
    • 1
  • Junko Tanaka-Matsumi
    • 2
  1. 1.Westchester Institute for Human DevelopmentValhalla
  2. 2.Hofstra UniversityHempstead

Personalised recommendations