Interpersonal Dynamics Within Adolescent Friendships: Dyadic Mutuality, Deviant Talk, and Patterns of Antisocial Behavior


  • This project was supported by the training grant MH 20012 to the first author from the National Institute of Mental Health at the National Institutes of Health and DA 07031, DA 13773, and DA 16110 to the second author from the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health. We acknowledge the contribution of the Project Alliance staff, our study families, and participating schools, all of whom made this study possible. We appreciate the support of Cheryl Mikkola in preparation of this manuscript.

concerning this article should be addressed to Timothy F. Piehler, Child and Family Center, University of Oregon, 195 West 12th Avenue, Eugene, OR 97401-3408. Electronic mail be sent to


Interpersonal dynamics within friendships were observed in a sample of 120 (60 male, 60 female) ethnically diverse 16- and 17-year-old adolescents characterized as persistently antisocial, adolescent-onset, and normative. Dyadic mutuality and deviant talk were coded from videotaped friendship interactions. Persistently antisocial adolescents demonstrated lower levels of dyadic mutuality compared with adolescent-onset and normative adolescents. Persistently antisocial and adolescent-onset adolescents spent more time in deviant talk than did normative adolescents. Across groups, girls were rated as more mutual and coded less in deviant talk than boys. Furthermore, friendship dyads who engaged in high levels of deviant talk and were mutual in their interactions reported the highest rates of antisocial behavior.