THE DOUBLE BIND: AN EMPIRICAL STUDY OF RESPONSES TO INCONSISTENT COMMUNICATIONS

Authors

  • Leena Roy,

    1. Brigham Young University
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    • Leena Roy, PhD, is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Marriage and Family TherapyProgram, Department of Family Sciences, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602.

  • Janet K. Sawyers

    1. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
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    • Janet K. Sawyers, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Child Development Program, Department of Family and Child Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061.


  • *This paper was presented at the Second International and Forty-third Annual Conference of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy in New York, October, 1985.

  • The author gratefully acknowledges the constructive criticisms of James Moran III, Dennis Hinkle, Leland Axelson, Howard Protinsky, and Eugene Mead.

Abstract

An empirical study of communications in a mother-child context was conducted. Cognitive, emotional, and metacommunicational responses to “subtle inconsistencies” and consistencies in communication in this context were studied. Subtle inconsistency was found to be more stressful, complex, and evocative of responses showing a lack of metacommunication than consistency, by both clinical and non-clinical adolescents. Finer differences were also found between clinical and non-clinical adolescents' emotional and metacommunicational responses to subtle inconsistency. The findings provide empirical support for the double bind hypothesis.

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