Communication Studies


DiCioccio, Rachel, L

Advisor Department

Communication Studies




Family communication, family size, extraversion, neuroticism, family satisfaction, personality, systems theory


Little research has been devoted to the examination of communicative patterns and behaviors within traditional large nuclear families. In fact, large families themselves have become quite rare in industrialized western society. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, total fertility rate in the United States is at 1.93, and the US Census Bureau reports that the average number of children in a family is less than two. Though the rarity of large families has made them difficult to study, large families are by no means extinct as a demographic.

The research herein seeks to expand current understanding of communicative dynamics within large families by reviewing existing research on large families, as well as analyzing data collected from a questionnaire and interviews with members of large families. The goal of this research is to reveal trends in large family communication and explore its effect on the expression of extroverted and neurotic traits. Individuals from families with six or more children were surveyed using Sato’s Eysenck Personality Questionnaire Brief Version (2005) and Carver & Jones’s Family Satisfaction Scale (1992) in order to provide a quantitative perspective on the potential effect of family size on the expression of extraversion and neuroticism, as well as family satisfaction. Additionally, interviews conducted with individuals raised in large families furnish a holistic impression of communicative trends within these families.

Given the unique dynamic present in a large and atypical household, the goal of this paper is to identify and investigate communication trends within large families, explore the impact of family environment and practices on expression of extraversion and neuroticism, and evaluate the effects of large family size on family satisfaction. What communication trends characterize interactions within large families? Do the communicative practices of large families give rise to expression of extraverted and neurotic personality traits? What (if any) is the function of large family size on family satisfaction? This foray into the largely uncharted field of communication in large families seeks to shed light on these questions. (23679 kB)