MARITAL THERAPY AND GENDER-LINKED FACTORS IN COMMUNICATION

Authors

  • William O'Donohue,

    1. William O'Donohue, PhD, is an Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Nevada-Reno, Reno, NV 89557.
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  • Julie L. Crouch

    1. Julie L. Crouch, MS, is an intern in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, 171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29425.
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Abstract

Understanding the process of communication is important because communication is critical to all forms of psychotherapy. A proper understanding of communication is particularly important in marital therapy because communications is often a treatment target. A central question of this paper is whether or not communication training (CT) programs in marital therapy have been sufficiently sensitive to the complexities of gender in communication. A critical review of research on the role of gender in communication is presented. Existing data indicate that individuals tend to hold stereotypes of gender differences in language, but many of these purported differences have not been supported in empirical investigations. However, gender has been found to be linked to variables such as amount of conversation elicited, length of utterance, use of qualifying phrases, swearing, use of back channel cues, breaking of silences, function of tag questions, and compliment style. Numerous limitations of the empirical literature exploring gender differences in communication behavior are described. This paper advocates the development of models of communication in which gender is recognized as having significant implications.

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