Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Family Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Ronald Werner-Wilson


Using quantitative and qualitative data analytic techniques, the present study explores the parent-adolescent relationship from a pilot study of 15 triads (overall N = 45). First, the statistical relationship between positive relational affect and electrical brain activity was assessed during parent-adolescent conflict communication (N = 30). Specifically, using electroencephalography (EEG) technology, electrical brain activity was recorded during family problem-solving discussions between a mother, father, and adolescent child. Observational coding was used to determine participant and triad positive affect ratios (PARs). Principles of positive-to-negative affect were incorporated into an affective neuroscience framework and used as the theoretical basis for the quantitative portion of this research. Findings suggest that in relation to positive affect, hemispheric lateralization occurs during parent-adolescent problem-solving discussions.

Second, the behavioral-family systems model of parent-adolescent conflict (Robin & Foster, 1989) was used to theoretically undergird the qualitative portion of the study. Based on this theoretical model, a thematic content analysis was conducted using transcripts from the triadic problem-solving discussions (N = 45). Patterns of parent-adolescent communication were assessed, and a modified grounded theory approach was applied to emergent communication themes that differed from those presented in the theory. Similarities and differences in conflict communication behaviors and positive affect ratios were compared between families. Contextual descriptions of each family are offered.