Discovering the Fabric of Supportive Conversations: A Typology of Speaking Turns and Their Contingencies

Graham D. Bodie, Susanne M. Jones, Miriam Brinberg, Amy M. Joyer, Denise Haunani Solomon, Nilam Ram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This study examines messages that problem disclosers and supportive listeners enact during conversations about everyday stressors. We coded 402 dyadic interactions between strangers, friends, and romantic couples using Stiles’s (1992) verbal response modes (VRM) and Burleson’s (1982) verbal person centeredness (PC) typology to explore whether (a) listener and discloser utterances coalesce into types of speaking turns, (b) listener turn types vary in person-centered quality, (c) listener turns relate to discloser responses, and (d) discloser responses relate to listener turns. Analyses revealed a typology for both listener and discloser turns: acknowledgment, advisement, question, elaboration, hedged disclosure, and reflection. The relative proportion of those types varied as a function of conversational role and relationship context, and these speech acts varied only minimally in PC. Configural frequency analyses revealed four greater-than-chance contingencies across data sets. The discussion highlights implications for a dyadic and dynamic understanding of supportive communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-237
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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