|dc.description.abstract||Background: The present study is part of an ongoing study which investigates the development of non-verbal communicative skills of adolescents and how possible differences in this development relate to the development of depressive symptoms in adolescence. In this study we examined age and gender differences in the use of other-oriented postures, and we compared mildly depressed with non-depressed subjects. Other-oriented postures were: interpersonal distance, head orientation, open position of the arms, open position of the legs and mirroring. It was also studied whether same age conversation partners responded differently to mildly depressed versus non-depressed adolescents.
Methods: Conversations between two same-age and same-sex adolescents aged 12 through 17 years (n = 263) were videotaped and rated on 5-point Likert scales. Scales were developed for: interpersonal distance, head orientation, open position of the arms, open position of the legs and mirroring. Some adolescents (n = 63) were observed twice, once in conversation with a mildly depressed and once while speaking to a non-depressed peer.
Results: Most other-oriented postures were shown more often by girls than boys, as expected. Mirroring was shown more often by older than younger adolescents. Open body posture was shown less by older than younger girls. Hardly any effects of mild depression were found on postural displays. The only effect was found in the older adolescents where mildly depressed adolescents used open postures less than non-depressed adolescents. Depression, however, did negatively affect the behavior of the partner, particularly in older adolescents, who showed less head orientation and less mirroring towards a mildly depressed than a non-depressed partner.
Discussion: We have found indications that gender specific postural displays are sensitive for depression, and particularly for depression of the partner in conversation. Implications for understanding the development of depression in adolescence will be discussed.||