“I don’t want to follow the pack”: Canadian adolescents’ lived experiences of silence and quietude among friends and family

(1) * Sandra Bosacki Mail (Brock University Department of Educational Studies, Canada)
(2) Victoria Talwar Mail (McGill University Department of Counselling and Educational Psychology, Canada)
*corresponding author


What are adolescents thinking and feeling during times of talking, listening, and being silent with their peers and family. Do their experiences differ according to context? How do such perceptions relate to one’s sense of identity and well-being over time? To answer such questions, the present small case 3-year longitudinal study explored a group of 6 Canadian 13-15 year old’s perceptions of self and their reflections on their communication experiences of talking, listening, and silence with their friends and family members. Participants shared their insight about how they described and understood themselves as a person, as well within social interactions with their friend and family. Results from a content analysis of responses showed nuanced differences across individual responses, but the themes were consistent. That is, across all 6 youth, they felt mixed emotions when silent, and happy when talking and listening to others, but felt unhappy and distressed when they knew that they were not being listened to. Results showed diverse conceptions and emotions about themselves as individuals across the three years. Such findings suggest a nuanced differentiation in terms of self-identity and relationships and communication with peers and family. These findings can inform how identity and communication are studied across adolescence and the development of future interventions to promote a positive and coherent sense of self and effective socio-communication skills


adolescents, silence, social communication, emotions




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