Document Type


Publication Date



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Communication Studies


To address Americans’ general attitudes and behavioral intentions toward adult children who are estranged from their parents, the current study employed online survey data from 151 Americans recruited through Amazon MTurk. Their responses revealed negative stereotypes (e.g., childish, ungrateful) and positive stereotypes (e.g., independent, strong) of the adult child who is estranged, as well as negative assessments of the parent who is estranged. Generally, participants perceived the adult children as more competent than warm. Compared to other participants in this sample, those participants who were estrangers or estrangees themselves held more positive attitudes overall, including more positive perceptions of estranged children’s warmth and competence. In response to open-ended survey questions asking participants how they would communicate with someone they knew to be estranged, common responses were avoidance of family-related topics, (heightened) physical distance, and accommodation to the needs of the person who is estranged. Implications are discussed surrounding the lack of warmth associated with those experiencing estrangement.

Source Citation

Rittenour, C., Kromka, S., Pitts, S., Thorwart, M., Vickers, J., & Whyte, K. (2018). Communication Surrounding Estrangement: Stereotypes, Attitudes, and (Non)Accommodation Strategies. Behavioral Sciences, 8(10), 96.


  1. © 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

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