Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gustafson, Gwen E.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Listening; Social interaction in children


Backchannel behaviors (e.g., "uh huhs," head nods, and smiling) are socially responsive behaviors which help maintain conversations by indicating understanding and attention. Among adults, use of backchannel behaviors is related to social attraction and liking. The present study had three purposes: first, to see if the use of responsive behaviors related to social attraction and liking for preschoolers; second, to see if a laboratory paradigm could predict subjects' use of these behaviors in a natural environment; and third, to replicate some developmental findings published by L. C. Miller, R. E. Lechner, and D. Ruggs in 1985. Subjects were 41 preschoolers aged 35-64 months. The preschoolers interacted with adults in the controlled laboratory and in a classroom situation. The experimenter measured backchannel behaviors through observation of videotapes and children's interactions in the classroom. The results indicated no significant relationship between ratings of popularity and use of backchannel responses. However, there was evidence indicating that responsiveness, as measured by the laboratory situation, could be predicted in the natural environment. There also was evidence for replication of the previous study with respect to the percentage of subjects using responsive behaviors. Future studies will extend this research into the elementary classroom in order to determine when responsive behaviors become important indicators for social attraction and liking.


Bibliography: pages [46]-52.


iv, 72 pages




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