Parental Response to Child's Incongruence: Verbal versus Nonverbal Primacy in Parent–child Interactions

Tsfira Grebelsky-Lichtman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Whereas the question of verbal versus nonverbal primacy has gained intensive interest, considerably less attention has been devoted to parental response to children's verbal/nonverbal incongruence. This study comprehensively analyzed parental responses to children's incongruence during mutual interactions. Parent–child interactions (n = 160) in structured joint game sequences were filmed in their homes and analyzed using a mixed multivariate design. Unexpectedly, parents related almost equally to verbal and nonverbal channels. The analysis of a wide range of social and situational contexts, including child's sex, parent's sex, SES, and task difficulty, highlighted their significant effects and delineated the contexts that activated verbal primacy, nonverbal primacy, and incongruent responses. This study provides a composite theoretical framework for the relative dominance of verbal versus nonverbal communication.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)484-509
Number of pages26
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Tsfira Grebelsky-Lichtman is a Lecturer in the Department of Business Administration at the Ono Academic College and in the Department of Communication at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She received her Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Grebelsky-Lichtman’s current area of research is interpersonal communication, both verbal and nonverbal. The author would like to give thanks for the financial support of Ono Research Institute (ORI) of Ono Academic College-Israel. Correspondence to: Tsfira Grebelsky-Lichtman, Department of Business Administration, Ono Academic College, Kiryat Ono 55000, Israel. E-mail: Grbelsky@

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 National Communication Association.


  • Discrepancy
  • Incongruent Communication
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Parent–child Interaction
  • Verbal Communication


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