Family Communication Patterns, Discourse Behavior, and Child Television Viewing


  • This project was part of her doctoral dissertation, directed by Joanne Cantor. A previous version of this article was presented at the International Communication Association conference, Chicago, 1996, and was part of a study on television advisories and ratings for the National Television Violence Study, coordinated by Mediascope and funded by the National Cable Television Association. The author would like to gratefully acknowledge Joanne Cantor for her guidance in this project and Linda Godbold, Kristen Harrison, John Krause, and Melissa Ritter-Thompson for their assistance in data collection. All correspondence should be addressed to the author at East Carolina University, Department of Communication, 113 Erwin Hall, Greenville, NC 27858, E-mail


This study investigated the relationship between the Family Communication Patterns (FCP) Inventory and parent-child discourse, the effect of FCP scores on child compliance, and the effect of parent discourse strategies on child compliance. Parents and children did not appear to agree about the norms in their family and appeared to be using different instances of discourse to draw conclusions about their family. For parents, control orientation was related to controlling verbal strategies; for children, control was related to global negative affect. Communication orientation was related to information sharing for parents but to fewer parental commands for children. In addition, greater control orientation resulted in less compliance. Parent discourse strategies also were related to child compliance. Younger children were more compliant when parents used directive language coupled with positive affect, but older children were less compliant in response to this verbal strategy.