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Abstract

The family is a critical context for the development and maintenance of communication patterns and relationships. Family’s communication patterns are derived from two orientations: conversation and conformity. Family members also use relational maintenance strategies to sustain their relationships. Previous research has established the association between communication orientations and relational maintenance strategies, but has not explored how family size (i.e., number of siblings) may impact these variables. This study reports on results from an online survey of N = 784 participants. Our results indicate that number of siblings negatively predicted conversation orientation, but positively predicted conformity orientation. In addition, conversation orientation positively predicted the use of all relational maintenance strategies; conformity orientation positively predicted all the relational maintenance strategies except positivity and conflict resolution. These results demonstrate that family size impacts family communication orientations and suggest that future research on family communication should measure family size alongside other demographic variables that impact family dynamics.

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