Identification and evaluation of communicator style in adult children of alcoholics

This study examined the level of impact an alcoholic family environment has on the development of communicator style in adult children of alcoholic parents. Utilizing self-report measures (the Norton Communicator Style Measure, and a family health history questionnaire), four variables were hypothesized to be key predictors of a unique communicator style associated with adult children of alcoholics. Subjects who self-identified as ACOA's and a randomly selected comparison group of non-ACOA's were submitted to discriminant analysis with an alpha level of .05. Results revealed that two of the four variables, dominance and impression leaving, were significant predictors of ACOA group membership, and as such contributed to the identification of a unique ACOA communicator style. A third variable, communicator image, also correlated significantly with the discriminant function, although it was not selected as a predictor variable due to suppression effects. The fourth variable, openness, was not significant. The discriminant analysis yielded 64% accuracy (chi-square= 3.92, DF=l, p(.05) in terms of correct classification of individual cases into the appropriate group. In essence, this study revealed that ACOA's perceived themselves as exhibiting a style of communication characterized by behavior that is less dominant and less impression leaving than individuals not raised in an alcoholic family setting. In addition, ACOA's tended to perceive themselves as having a less positive communicator image than the comparison group perceived themselves to have. All three of these conclusions essentially confirm observations reported in the literature, and offer an initial framework for the identification and evaluation of an ACOA communicator style.