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

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 National Communication Association.


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


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