A Discourse Comparison of Antisocial and Well-adjusted Male Adolescent Peers: Dyadic Analysis of Verbal Dominance, Submissiveness, and Agreement by Context
Mahon, Jacob J.
The interpersonal communicatory dynamics of verbal behavior were studied in an antisocial (n=20) and well-adjusted (n=20) sample of adolescent male dyads (ethnically diverse 16- and 17-year-old peers). Verbal dominance and submissiveness was measured using the Verbal Control Code and analyzed in conjunction with measures of verbal agreement utilized from the study of Piehler and Dishion (2006). Antisocial adolescent dyads were found to use significantly more verbal dominance and submission and less agreement across conversational contexts than their well-adjusted counterparts and a constant, non-adapting, level of interruptive efficiency. Findings suggest differences in the effortful maintenance of dominance and agreement behaviors across contexts in the two populations of youth studied. Further, appropriate adaptability to conversational contexts is thought to represent a prosocial ability and to be a component of verbal organization and social competence, here, significantly lacking in the antisocial youth measured. The disregard for changes in conversational context, in turn, inhibits a teen’s ability to appropriately communicate and higher levels of organization in discourse have been found to be more prominent in well-adjusted populations than antisocial ones (Dishion, 2004). Limitations and suggestions for future research are noted. Particularly, further study involving analysis of friendship dynamics and effects of speech duration in differing contexts would be worthwhile.