Home » Coping with Insecurities about Interpersonal Communication

Coping with Insecurities about Interpersonal Communication

Learning Outcomes
After reading this chapter, you should be able to
ሁ Define the concept of communication apprehension and identify the various types of communication
apprehension.
ሁ Explain how communication apprehension is related to a number of personality factors and interpersonal consequences.
ሁ Describe both broad and specific interpersonal effects of communication apprehension.
ሁ Use strategies to reduce communication apprehension in interpersonal interactions.
5 Developing Confidence:
Coping with Insecurities about
Interpersonal Communication
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Introduction
Introduction
Michael, a 25-year-old man, has a great deal of trouble communicating in certain face-toface situations. When he is talking with his friends, his family members, and his girlfriend
Dominique, he is perfectly comfortable: He seeks out interactions with those he is close to
and fully engages in and participates in conversations with them. But he quickly becomes
overwhelmed when he is in situations where he is meeting new people or participating in
a group situation with those he does not know very well, which happens frequently for him
at school and at his job as a marketing assistant. He gets nervous; he starts to sweat, and
his hands become clammy, which makes him even more uncomfortable with introductory
handshakes; he avoids talking unless he absolutely has to; and he stumbles over his words
and sounds unsure and tentative when he does have to speak. Overall, he is just not himself
in such situations—because of this, Michael is not able to enact his self-image as he would
like when communicating with others. As a result, he routinely avoids certain communication
situations because he does not want to experience this discomfort and give such a negative
(and inaccurate) impression of himself to others.
Michael’s trouble communicating in these new interactions has been detrimental to him: He
has had job interviews where he did not get hired because of his difficulty communicating
confidently, he has not impressed his classmates or coworkers because he shuts down in
group situations, and he is too afraid to ask his boss for a raise or to speak with his professor
about a grade that he thinks is incorrect. Michael doesn’t think that he is shy, because once
he gets to know people, he is very eager to interact with them and does so competently. In
fact, what Michael has is communication apprehension, and as we will see in this chapter,
this is a common communication barrier that can make you a less confident or competent
communicator.
Like Michael, you likely experience some insecurity in at least one aspect of your communication with others. Maybe you get nervous when speaking with someone who has a great
deal of power and influence, experience apprehension when talking with your romantic
partner about a difficult issue, or get jitters while speaking in public or performing on stage.
A major goal of this text is to help you understand and improve your interpersonal communication. Identifying specific communication challenges and insecurities, and then addressing these issues, is the main hurdle in this process. Throughout the book, we have discussed
communication competence as an important and easy-to-implement strategy for improving
communication. Chapter 5 thus examines a number of barriers that can arise in interpersonal communication situations, introduces and describes the concept of communication
apprehension, and examines how communication apprehension is related to a number of
personality factors and interpersonal consequences. We also discuss several strategies for
reducing communication apprehension in interpersonal interactions.
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Communication Apprehension Section 5.1
5.1 Communication Apprehension
Communication apprehension is one of the
most frequently researched concepts in the
communication discipline and, on a more
specific level, is commonly studied in relation to interpersonal communication (Daly,
2011; Levine & McCroskey, 1990). Communication scholar James McCroskey first identified communication apprehension in 1968
when he proposed it as a broad concept that
encompasses the fear and stress associated
with any form of communication, including
stage fright and reticence. Communication
apprehension (CA) specifically occurs
when an individual experiences “fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communication with another person
or persons” (McCroskey, 1977, p. 78). In
other words, CA can occur during an interaction or when you expect to take part in an interaction in the near future. In fact, CA can compel you to avoid certain interactions altogether.
An individual who experiences CA might avoid or reduce her participation in communication
situations in an attempt to prevent feeling upset and experiencing anxiety. In this way, someone with high CA views communication as a punishment that should be avoided, whereas
people with low CA will seek opportunities to engage in the same interaction and find it to be
enjoyable (Daly, 2011). We will use the words high, moderate, and low to describe CA levels
throughout this chapter because these designations reflect the categorizations that researchers often use for their study participants in order to make statistical comparisons among the
three groups. Keep in mind that CA is a continuum that ranges from low to high levels, and
that there is also a continuum for each of the different types and forms of CA that we discuss
below. Everyone’s CA levels differ according to the specific type or form of CA that is relevant,
and everyone experiences some type of CA at different points. For example, an individual may
feel very comfortable talking with others at a party but become nervous in formal meeting
situations, particularly when the meeting is a job interview.
McCroskey (1977) describes three propositions regarding individuals with high communication apprehension:
1. Those with high levels of CA avoid and withdraw from communication whenever
they can.
2. Avoidance and withdrawal leads others to view the high CA individual less positively
than those with low to no CA.
3. The combination of communication avoidance and less positive perceptions by others causes the high CA individual to experience greater difficulty in social, academic,
financial, and professional situations.
Individuals can experience communication apprehension as either a more enduring personality trait or in response to a particular state or situation. We discuss these two concepts and
the different forms of CA next.
Michael Blann/Iconica/Getty Images
ሁ For an individual with communication
apprehension, communication situations cause
feelings of fear or anxiety.
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Communication Apprehension Section 5.1
Two Types of Communication Apprehension
It is not unusual for people to experience apprehension in specific communication scenarios. Indeed, McCroskey (2009) notes that 70% of Americans experience CA in anticipation
of giving a speech. This type of CA is known as state communication apprehension, or an
apprehensive reaction to a specific communication context or situation. If you have high state
CA, you fear or feel anxious in one communication context but do not feel that way in others (McCroskey, 2009). The stage fright that singers and actors describe experiencing is an
example of state CA because they only feel that fear and anxiety in performance situations.
State CA thus occurs less often and only when in the midst of the single communication environment, and it is typically experienced at only mild or moderate levels. McCroskey (1977)
stresses that experiencing state CA from time to time is normal for most people, and it is a
logical response to an interaction that could be perceived as crucially important or intimidating or intense, such as giving a speech to hundreds of people or going into an important job
interview.
On the other hand, communication apprehension can also be something that is a characteristic of an individual that extends across a variety of communication situations, and it can
affect one’s life and relationships. This trait communication apprehension is experienced
as a broad, consistent personal attribute that can have multiple implications and occurs more
frequently than state CA. It is viewed as a general pattern along a continuum such that one
can have low, moderate, or high fear or anxiety orientation across communication contexts
(McCroskey, 2009). For example, someone with high trait CA may be less assertive, free, and
clear when communicating and may also feel less powerful, confident, and brave during interactions (Hopf & Colby, 1992; Jung, 2013). In contrast, low trait CA people will communicate
in a more assertive, clear, and free manner and feel confident and in control when interacting
with others. Low CA individuals also tend to experience higher self-esteem (Krishnan & Atkin,
2014). Consistent effects of high CA can prevent you from achieving certain personal goals,
particularly ones that involve interacting with others. In addition, the higher one’s trait CA,
the more he or she experiences a personal identity gap, which is the difference between one’s
present self-concept and his or her perception of how others view the self (Jung, 2013). As
we know from Chapter 2, our perception of how others view us has a significant impact on
how we view ourselves. So, if our trait CA is consistently high, we run the risk of experiencing
large personal identity gaps, which could distort our self-concepts and self-images over time.
An estimated 15% to 20% of college and public school students, adults, and senior citizens
have high trait CA (McCroskey, 2009; McCroskey & Richmond, 1982). Trait CA is also common
among those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or
traumatic brain injury (TBI; see the Everyday Communication Challenges feature for more on
this topic). Trait CA is experienced in a variety of communication situations, from interpersonal to organizational to public speaking, and such interactions can be either real or imagined threats. As a result, the vast majority of CA research has focused on trait CA. For the
remainder of this chapter, when we refer to CA, we are describing trait CA, unless otherwise
noted.
It is important to note that the word “trait” makes it sound as if someone with trait CA is destined to be “burdened” with this issue for the rest of their lives. But, as we know from earlier
chapters in this text, knowledge, skill, and motivation can assist us in being more competent
communicators. Those same ideas can be applied to identifying and adjusting trait CA levels
that are higher than what you want them to be.
Everyday Communication Challenges: CA and Its
Relationship to ASD, PTSD, and TBI
The term communication apprehension may conjure mental images of someone getting the
jitters when talking in front of an unfamiliar audience. But CA is more than that (Spain,
Sinc, Lindera, McMahond, & Happéa, 2018). CA is a lack of willingness to communicate—a
predisposition to avoid initiating or participating in conversations (Perrault, 2017).
Recall that CA is divided into two general categories: state CA and trait CA. When we talk
about CA in the context of ASD, PTSD, and TBI, we are talking about trait CA (Perrault,
2017).
Trait alludes to a quality of someone’s personality. It’s not encoded in one’s genes (like one’s
eye color), nor is it a situational response. It is a generalized response to all verbal forms of
communication (McCroskey, 1984).
People with trait CA are unsettled even in small-group situations and experience more
tension than normal in these circumstances. According to McCroskey, the pioneer of CA
research, “Communication apprehension is indeed a handicap that harms some people in
our society” (McCroskey, 1976, p. 41).
At least 20% of the U.S. population has some level of communication apprehension.
Although it may not incapacitate people, it can keep them from wanting to engage in communication (McCroskey, 1976). That is particularly true when someone has ASD, PTSD, or
TBI. At least 50% of all people on the autism spectrum have CA (Spain et al., 2018). (The
prevalence of CA has not yet been studied formally in PTSD and TBI populations.)
Recall from our discussion of nonverbal communication in Chapter 4 that the nerves in the
brain are akin to complex wiring that constantly sorts, routes, relays, and processes information. Visualized that way, when those with ASD, PTSD, or TBI process what they see or
hear, their brains can cause communications to go awry:
ASD = differently-wired connections (rerouted or crossed wires)
PTSD = traumatized connections (frayed or short-circuited wires)
TBI = disrupted/damaged connections (missing or cut wires)
So how does communication apprehension affect people with ASD, PTSD, or TBI?
Sometimes it affects them differently. For example, a person with autism will take what
he or she hears very literally, even if it’s not meant that way. A person who has sustained a
TBI may not understand what’s being said, even if it is meant to be taken literally. A person
with PTSD may not be affected at all, the conversation may disinterest him, or he may perceive something threatening in it that triggers an inappropriate response.
But ASD, PTSD, and TBI share many commonalities regarding communication apprehension. According to several sources (Bejerot, Eriksson, & Mörtberg, 2014; Carrington et
al., 2014; Denworth, 2018; Craig Hospital, 2008; Bivona et al., 2019; Greenberg, 2018;
Charuvastra & Cloitre, 2008), in general, all three groups
• are not motivated to engage socially, which decreases their communications overall;
• are socially awkward (albeit sometimes for different reasons);
(continued on next page)
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Communication Apprehension Section 5.1
Two Types of Communication Apprehension
It is not unusual for people to experience apprehension in specific communication scenarios. Indeed, McCroskey (2009) notes that 70% of Americans experience CA in anticipation
of giving a speech. This type of CA is known as state communication apprehension, or an
apprehensive reaction to a specific communication context or situation. If you have high state
CA, you fear or feel anxious in one communication context but do not feel that way in others (McCroskey, 2009). The stage fright that singers and actors describe experiencing is an
example of state CA because they only feel that fear and anxiety in performance situations.
State CA thus occurs less often and only when in the midst of the single communication environment, and it is typically experienced at only mild or moderate levels. McCroskey (1977)
stresses that experiencing state CA from time to time is normal for most people, and it is a
logical response to an interaction that could be perceived as crucially important or intimidating or intense, such as giving a speech to hundreds of people or going into an important job
interview.
On the other hand, communication apprehension can also be something that is a characteristic of an individual that extends across a variety of communication situations, and it can
affect one’s life and relationships. This trait communication apprehension is experienced
as a broad, consistent personal attribute that can have multiple implications and occurs more
frequently than state CA. It is viewed as a general pattern along a continuum such that one
can have low, moderate, or high fear or anxiety orientation across communication contexts
(McCroskey, 2009). For example, someone with high trait CA may be less assertive, free, and
clear when communicating and may also feel less powerful, confident, and brave during interactions (Hopf & Colby, 1992; Jung, 2013). In contrast, low trait CA people will communicate
in a more assertive, clear, and free manner and feel confident and in control when interacting
with others. Low CA individuals also tend to experience higher self-esteem (Krishnan & Atkin,
2014). Consistent effects of high CA can prevent you from achieving certain personal goals,
particularly ones that involve interacting with others. In addition, the higher one’s trait CA,
the more he or she experiences a personal identity gap, which is the difference between one’s
present self-concept and his or her perception of how others view the self (Jung, 2013). As
we know from Chapter 2, our perception of how others view us has a significant impact on
how we view ourselves. So, if our trait CA is consistently high, we run the risk of experiencing
large personal identity gaps, which could distort our self-concepts and self-images over time.
An estimated 15% to 20% of college and public school students, adults, and senior citizens
have high trait CA (McCroskey, 2009; McCroskey & Richmond, 1982). Trait CA is also common
among those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or
traumatic brain injury (TBI; see the Everyday Communication Challenges feature for more on
this topic). Trait CA is experienced in a variety of communication situations, from interpersonal to organizational to public speaking, and such interactions can be either real or imagined threats. As a result, the vast majority of CA research has focused on trait CA. For the
remainder of this chapter, when we refer to CA, we are describing trait CA, unless otherwise
noted.
It is important to note that the word “trait” makes it sound as if someone with trait CA is destined to be “burdened” with this issue for the rest of their lives. But, as we know from earlier
chapters in this text, knowledge, skill, and motivation can assist us in being more competent
communicators. Those same ideas can be applied to identifying and adjusting trait CA levels
that are higher than what you want them to be.
Everyday Communication Challenges: CA and Its
Relationship to ASD, PTSD, and TBI
The term communication apprehension may conjure mental images of someone getting the
jitters when talking in front of an unfamiliar audience. But CA is more than that (Spain,
Sinc, Lindera, McMahond, & Happéa, 2018). CA is a lack of willingness to communicate—a
predisposition to avoid initiating or participating in conversations (Perrault, 2017).
Recall that CA is divided into two general categories: state CA and trait CA. When we talk
about CA in the context of ASD, PTSD, and TBI, we are talking about trait CA (Perrault,
2017).
Trait alludes to a quality of someone’s personality. It’s not encoded in one’s genes (like one’s
eye color), nor is it a situational response. It is a generalized response to all verbal forms of
communication (McCroskey, 1984).
People with trait CA are unsettled even in small-group situations and experience more
tension than normal in these circumstances. According to McCroskey, the pioneer of CA
research, “Communication apprehension is indeed a handicap that harms some people in
our society” (McCroskey, 1976, p. 41).
At least 20% of the U.S. population has some level of communication apprehension.
Although it may not incapacitate people, it can keep them from wanting to engage in communication (McCroskey, 1976). That is particularly true when someone has ASD, PTSD, or
TBI. At least 50% of all people on the autism spectrum have CA (Spain et al., 2018). (The
prevalence of CA has not yet been studied formally in PTSD and TBI populations.)
Recall from our discussion of nonverbal communication in Chapter 4 that the nerves in the
brain are akin to complex wiring that constantly sorts, routes, relays, and processes information. Visualized that way, when those with ASD, PTSD, or TBI process what they see or
hear, their brains can cause communications to go awry:
ASD = differently-wired connections (rerouted or crossed wires)
PTSD = traumatized connections (frayed or short-circuited wires)
TBI = disrupted/damaged connections (missing or cut wires)
So how does communication apprehension affect people with ASD, PTSD, or TBI?
Sometimes it affects them differently. For example, a person with autism will take what
he or she hears very literally, even if it’s not meant that way. A person who has sustained a
TBI may not understand what’s being said, even if it is meant to be taken literally. A person
with PTSD may not be affected at all, the conversation may disinterest him, or he may perceive something threatening in it that triggers an inappropriate response.
But ASD, PTSD, and TBI share many commonalities regarding communication apprehension. According to several sources (Bejerot, Eriksson, & Mörtberg, 2014; Carrington et
al., 2014; Denworth, 2018; Craig Hospital, 2008; Bivona et al., 2019; Greenberg, 2018;
Charuvastra & Cloitre, 2008), in general, all three groups
• are not motivated to engage socially, which decreases their communications overall;
• are socially awkward (albeit sometimes for different reasons);
(continued on next page)
© 2020 Zovio Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution.
Communication Apprehension Section 5.1
Four Forms of Communication Apprehension
There are four different identified forms of CA, and each form is reflective of the various contexts in which we can experience CA. These four communication contexts are as follows:
1. dyadic: communication that occurs between two people
2. group: communication that involves three or more people
3. meeting: communication that involves two or more people and occurs in a business
or professional setting
4. public speaking: communication that involves one or more people presenting information to a larger group
As we noted above, degrees of each of these forms of trait CA fall along a continuum ranging
from low to high, and an individual with low dyadic CA may have high public speaking CA. A
self-report measure, known as the Personal Report of Communication Apprehension, is provided in the Self-Test feature and can be used to identify your degree of CA for each of these
four forms. Take the survey and consider your results as you read about each of these forms
of CA, discussed in the next sections.
Everyday Communication Challenges: CA and Its
Relationship to ASD, PTSD, and TBI (continued)
• If the person says something unusual, paraphrase what you think they meant (to confirm
you understand what they said).
• If needed, recap or summarize to help solidify “the bigger picture.”
Although a single discussion of this topic cannot cover all the contingencies for the best
way to exchange information in every setting, the intent is to increase awareness about CA
and give concrete suggestions for navigating through it when it poses a potential barrier,
particularly for people who have ASD, PTSD, or TBI. Remember: Effective communication
is everyone’s responsibility!
Everyday Communication Challenges: CA and Its
Relationship to ASD, PTSD, and TBI (continued)
• don’t recognize that they lack certain social skills;
• are less inclined than most to share or make small talk;
• adjust their social behaviors slowly or with difficulty when social contexts change; and
• exhibit social avoidance/social anxiety.
This translates into decreased integration of verbal and nonverbal communications. It also
contributes to poor back-and-forth conversation.
Many circumstances amplify comprehension apprehension in these populations. They
don’t grasp the meaning of figures of speech. They overlook the subtext of speech. They
may grope for words or use them in a nonstandard manner. For example, someone with
ASD may say “it’s darking” when she means “it’s getting dark outside.” In contrast, a person
with TBI may simply not remember certain words. So, he may say “that circular cow thing”
when he can’t remember “leather belt.”
Sometimes people with ASD, PTSD, or TBI may have difficulty staying on topic. The reasons for this vary. TBI is an organic, physiological injury to the brain that can alter its
information-processing abilities. In conversation, people with TBI may give too little or
too much information. People with ASD and TBI may be inordinately interested in a very
narrow topic while disregarding others’ interests in different topics (Craig Hospital, 2008;
Greenberg, 2018). People with PTSD tend to perceive threats when they don’t exist. Such
constant surveillance overrides other thoughts, intruding on communications at hand.
Such “intrusions” impair their ability to assess and regulate their responses to real or perceived threats as well as their responses to “normal” conversation (Greenberg, 2018).
For all those reasons and more, people with ASD, PTSD, or TBI may pick up on key words
in a conversation rather than the whole message (Vicker, 2009). When they default to that
strategy, they may miss the overall meaning of the communication. That can lead to frustration, disinterest in the conversation, or an inappropriate outburst. Sometimes they may
deem it easier to give up on a social interaction if they perceive it’s not going well.
Although studies of people on the autism spectrum have shown that CA is not associated
with restricted or repetitive behaviors (Spain et al., 2018), similar studies have not been
done with people who have PTSD or TBI. Thus, it is difficult to know if symptoms of communication apprehension are a result of that condition or exist independently of it.
When talking with a person who has ASD, PTSD, or TBI, think of how you’d want to be
treated if you were in their shoes. When engaging in conversation with them, follow these
general tips:
• Listen carefully.
• Talk concisely and in concrete terms.
• Avoid using jargon, irony, sarcasm, metaphors, and figures of speech.
• Be patient.
(continued on next page)
Self-Test: Personal Report of Communication
Apprehension
This instrument, often referred to as the PRCA-24, is composed of 24 statements concerning feelings about communicating with others. Please indicate the degree to which each
statement applies to you:
1 for strongly disagree
2 for disagree
3 for neutral
4 for agree
5 for strongly agree
(continued on next page)
© 2020 Zovio Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution.
Communication Apprehension Section 5.1
Four Forms of Communication Apprehension
There are four different identified forms of CA, and each form is reflective of the various contexts in which we can experience CA. These four communication contexts are as follows:
1. dyadic: communication that occurs between two people
2. group: communication that involves three or more people
3. meeting: communication that involves two or more people and occurs in a business
or professional setting
4. public speaking: communication that involves one or more people presenting information to a larger group
As we noted above, degrees of each of these forms of trait CA fall along a continuum ranging
from low to high, and an individual with low dyadic CA may have high public speaking CA. A
self-report measure, known as the Personal Report of Communication Apprehension, is provided in the Self-Test feature and can be used to identify your degree of CA for each of these
four forms. Take the survey and consider your results as you read about each of these forms
of CA, discussed in the next sections.
Everyday Communication Challenges: CA and Its
Relationship to ASD, PTSD, and TBI (continued)
• If the person says something unusual, paraphrase what you think they meant (to confirm
you understand what they said).
• If needed, recap or summarize to help solidify “the bigger picture.”
Although a single discussion of this topic cannot cover all the contingencies for the best
way to exchange information in every setting, the intent is to increase awareness about CA
and give concrete suggestions for navigating through it when it poses a potential barrier,
particularly for people who have ASD, PTSD, or TBI. Remember: Effective communication
is everyone’s responsibility!
Everyday Communication Challenges: CA and Its
Relationship to ASD, PTSD, and TBI (continued)
• don’t recognize that they lack certain social skills;
• are less inclined than most to share or make small talk;
• adjust their social behaviors slowly or with difficulty when social contexts change; and
• exhibit social avoidance/social anxiety.
This translates into decreased integration of verbal and nonverbal communications. It also
contributes to poor back-and-forth conversation.
Many circumstances amplify comprehension apprehension in these populations. They
don’t grasp the meaning of figures of speech. They overlook the subtext of speech. They
may grope for words or use them in a nonstandard manner. For example, someone with
ASD may say “it’s darking” when she means “it’s getting dark outside.” In contrast, a person
with TBI may simply not remember certain words. So, he may say “that circular cow thing”
when he can’t remember “leather belt.”
Sometimes people with ASD, PTSD, or TBI may have difficulty staying on topic. The reasons for this vary. TBI is an organic, physiological injury to the brain that can alter its
information-processing abilities. In conversation, people with TBI may give too little or
too much information. People with ASD and TBI may be inordinately interested in a very
narrow topic while disregarding others’ interests in different topics (Craig Hospital, 2008;
Greenberg, 2018). People with PTSD tend to perceive threats when they don’t exist. Such
constant surveillance overrides other thoughts, intruding on communications at hand.
Such “intrusions” impair their ability to assess and regulate their responses to real or perceived threats as well as their responses to “normal” conversation (Greenberg, 2018).
For all those reasons and more, people with ASD, PTSD, or TBI may pick up on key words
in a conversation rather than the whole message (Vicker, 2009). When they default to that
strategy, they may miss the overall meaning of the communication. That can lead to frustration, disinterest in the conversation, or an inappropriate outburst. Sometimes they may
deem it easier to give up on a social interaction if they perceive it’s not going well.
Although studies of people on the autism spectrum have shown that CA is not associated
with restricted or repetitive behaviors (Spain et al., 2018), similar studies have not been
done with people who have PTSD or TBI. Thus, it is difficult to know if symptoms of communication apprehension are a result of that condition or exist independently of it.
When talking with a person who has ASD, PTSD, or TBI, think of how you’d want to be
treated if you were in their shoes. When engaging in conversation with them, follow these
general tips:
• Listen carefully.
• Talk concisely and in concrete terms.
• Avoid using jargon, irony, sarcasm, metaphors, and figures of speech.
• Be patient.
(continued on next page)
Self-Test: Personal Report of Communication
Apprehension
This instrument, often referred to as the PRCA-24, is composed of 24 statements concerning feelings about communicating with others. Please indicate the degree to which each
statement applies to you:
1 for strongly disagree
2 for disagree
3 for neutral
4 for agree
5 for strongly agree
(continued on next page)
© 2020 Zovio Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution.
Communication Apprehension Section 5.1
Dyadic Communication Apprehension
Also known as person–partner CA, dyadic communication apprehension describes the fear
one feels of interactions with one particular individual and the subsequent desire to prevent
or avoid such interactions. According to McCroskey (1984), dyadic CA involves “a relatively
Self-Test: Personal Report of Communication
Apprehension (continued)
1. I dislike participating in group discussions.
2. Generally, I am comfortable while participating in group discussions.
3. I am tense and nervous while participating in group discussions.
4. I like to get involved in group discussions.
5. Engaging in a group discussion with new people makes me tense and nervous.
6. I am calm and relaxed while participating in group discussions.
7. Generally, I am nervous when I have to participate in a meeting.
8. Usually, I am comfortable when I have to participate in a meeting.
9. I am very calm and relaxed when I am called upon to express an opinion at a meeting.
10. I am afraid to express myself at meetings.
11. Communicating at meetings usually makes me uncomfortable.
12. I am very relaxed when answering questions at a meeting.
13. While participating in a conversation with a new acquaintance, I feel very nervous.
14. I have no fear of speaking up in conversations.
15. Ordinarily, I am very tense and nervous in conversations.
16. Ordinarily, I am very calm and relaxed in conversations.
17. While conversing with a new acquaintance, I feel very relaxed.
18. I’m afraid to speak up in conversations.
19. I have no fear of giving a speech.
20. Certain parts of my body feel very tense and rigid while giving a speech.
21. I feel relaxed while giving a speech.
22. My thoughts become confused and jumbled when I am giving a speech.
23. I face the prospect of giving a speech with confidence.
24. While giving a speech, I get so nervous I forget facts I really know.
Scoring
Group discussion: 18 − (scores for items 2, 4, & 6) + (scores for items 1, 3, & 5)
Meetings: 18 − (scores for items 8, 9, & 12) + (scores for items 7, 10, & 11)
Dyadic: 18 − (scores for items 14, 16, & 17) + (scores for items 13, 15, & 18)
Public speaking: 18 − (scores for items 19, 21, & 23) + (scores for items 20, 22, & 24)
(continued on next page)
Self-Test: Personal Report of Communication
Apprehension (continued)
Group discussion score: _____________
Dyadic score: _____________
Meetings score: _____________
Public speaking score: _____________
To obtain your total score for the PRCA, simply add your subscores together:
_____________
Scores can range from 24–120. Scores below 51 represent people who have very low CA.
Scores between 51–80 represent people with average CA. Scores above 80 represent people who have high levels of trait CA.
Norms for the PRCA-24
The following norms are based on over 40,000 college students. Data from over 3,000 nonstudent adults in a national sample provided virtually identical norms, within 0.20 for all
scores.
Mean
Standard
deviation High Low
Total 65.6 15.3 > 80 < 51
Group 15.4 4.8 > 20 < 11
Meeting 16.4 4.2 > 20 < 13
Dyad 14.2 3.9 > 18 < 11
Public speaking 19.3 5.1 > 24 < 14
Source: Copyright © 2005 From Introduction to Rhetorical Communication, 9th ed, by James McCroskey. Reproduced
by permission of Taylor and Francis Group, LLC, a division of Informa plc.
Consider Your Results
1. Consider your overall CA score, as well as your scores for each specific type of CA.
Using the table of norms for the PRCA-24, determine how you compare to others with
regard to your CA levels.
2. Were there any scores that surprised you? In addition, think about how your CA levels
in a particular area may have impacted how you communicated in that situation. Did
you do poorly in a group project because you have high group CA?
3. How might you manage your CA in future situations?
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Communication Apprehension Section 5.1
Dyadic Communication Apprehension
Also known as person–partner CA, dyadic communication apprehension describes the fear
one feels of interactions with one particular individual and the subsequent desire to prevent
or avoid such interactions. According to McCroskey (1984), dyadic CA involves “a relatively
Self-Test: Personal Report of Communication
Apprehension (continued)
1. I dislike participating in group discussions.
2. Generally, I am comfortable while participating in group discussions.
3. I am tense and nervous while participating in group discussions.
4. I like to get involved in group discussions.
5. Engaging in a group discussion with new people makes me tense and nervous.
6. I am calm and relaxed while participating in group discussions.
7. Generally, I am nervous when I have to participate in a meeting.
8. Usually, I am comfortable when I have to participate in a meeting.
9. I am very calm and relaxed when I am called upon to express an opinion at a meeting.
10. I am afraid to express myself at meetings.
11. Communicating at meetings usually makes me uncomfortable.
12. I am very relaxed when answering questions at a meeting.
13. While participating in a conversation with a new acquaintance, I feel very nervous.
14. I have no fear of speaking up in conversations.
15. Ordinarily, I am very tense and nervous in conversations.
16. Ordinarily, I am very calm and relaxed in conversations.
17. While conversing with a new acquaintance, I feel very relaxed.
18. I’m afraid to speak up in conversations.
19. I have no fear of giving a speech.
20. Certain parts of my body feel very tense and rigid while giving a speech.
21. I feel relaxed while giving a speech.
22. My thoughts become confused and jumbled when I am giving a speech.
23. I face the prospect of giving a speech with confidence.
24. While giving a speech, I get so nervous I forget facts I really know.
Scoring
Group discussion: 18 − (scores for items 2, 4, & 6) + (scores for items 1, 3, & 5)
Meetings: 18 − (scores for items 8, 9, & 12) + (scores for items 7, 10, & 11)
Dyadic: 18 − (scores for items 14, 16, & 17) + (scores for items 13, 15, & 18)
Public speaking: 18 − (scores for items 19, 21, & 23) + (scores for items 20, 22, & 24)
(continued on next page)
Self-Test: Personal Report of Communication
Apprehension (continued)
Group discussion score: _____________
Dyadic score: _____________
Meetings score: _____________
Public speaking score: _____________
To obtain your total score for the PRCA, simply add your subscores together:
_____________
Scores can range from 24–120. Scores below 51 represent people who have very low CA.
Scores between 51–80 represent people with average CA. Scores above 80 represent people who have high levels of trait CA.
Norms for the PRCA-24
The following norms are based on over 40,000 college students. Data from over 3,000 nonstudent adults in a national sample provided virtually identical norms, within 0.20 for all
scores.
Mean
Standard
deviation High Low
Total 65.6 15.3 > 80 < 51
Group 15.4 4.8 > 20 < 11
Meeting 16.4 4.2 > 20 < 13
Dyad 14.2 3.9 > 18 < 11
Public speaking 19.3 5.1 > 24 < 14
Source: Copyright © 2005 From Introduction to Rhetorical Communication, 9th ed, by James McCroskey. Reproduced
by permission of Taylor and Francis Group, LLC, a division of Informa plc.
Consider Your Results
1. Consider your overall CA score, as well as your scores for each specific type of CA.
Using the table of norms for the PRCA-24, determine how you compare to others with
regard to your CA levels.
2. Were there any scores that surprised you? In addition, think about how your CA levels
in a particular area may have impacted how you communicated in that situation. Did
you do poorly in a group project because you have high group CA?
3. How might you manage your CA in future situations?
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Communication Apprehension Section 5.1
enduring orientation toward communication with a given person” (p. 17). This apprehension
can occur within or across situations (McCroskey & Richmond, 1984), meaning you could
have CA about one specific person, such as a coworker whose communication style is different than yours and whose behavior you can never predict, or about a “type of person,” such as
people you do not know at a social gathering or healthcare providers. Since dyadic CA can be
a response to one particular individual, the anxiety is a product of previous negative interactions and the relational history with the identified individual. Is there someone with whom
you are always nervous to talk? Perhaps you didn’t make a good first impression and you feel
anxiety every time you have to interact with this person because you know that person does
not like you very much. Or you may be anxious when talking to someone because you really
want that person to like and respect you.
The first time that you meet a romantic partner’s parents or siblings is probably an instance
when you experienced high dyadic CA, as their opinion of you could potentially make or break
your relationship. If your partner’s family welcomes you with open arms, your dyadic CA
levels will likely lower substantially. But if they are not welcoming and seem to disapprove of
you, you will probably remain apprehensive when you interact with each of them. Interpersonal communication scholars most commonly examine this form of CA, as it best represents
the one-on-one nature of interpersonal interactions; thus, it is the focus of this chapter.
Group Communication Apprehension
Individuals can also experience group communication apprehension, which causes them
to avoid or withdraw from interactions that involve three or more individuals. McCroskey and
Virginia P. Richmond (1992) believe that group CA is the most important predictor of how
one will communicate in a small group situation. American culture emphasizes teams at work
and in social and athletic situations, so possessing this form of CA can be a great detriment in
an individual’s personal and professional lives. Compared to those with a low degree of group
CA, those with high group CA tend to speak less, choose seats that prevent them from being
the focus of attention, and even generate fewer ideas than when they are alone (McCroskey &
Richmond, 1992). Other group members view them as more nervous, less dominant, and as
providing fewer important contributions than those with low group CA. These characteristics
mean that high group CA individuals will be less effective group members and are less likely
to be group leaders. In addition, from a more general CA perspective, those with moderate
or high trait CA (i.e., the combined scores for the four forms of CA measured on the PRCA-24
scale) were less likely to be viewed as group leaders than low trait CA individuals (Limon &
LaFrance, 2005). So even if an individual does not specifically experience group CA, a significant degree of CA in general can affect the person’s ability to interact in group environments.
Meeting Communication Apprehension
An individual with meeting communication apprehension experiences anxiety associated
with participation in formal meetings. This form of CA can have a significant impact on an
individual’s academic and professional life. In a job interview, for example, individuals with a
high degree of employment interview CA (a specific form of meeting CA) reported that they
chose to avoid thinking about and preparing for the interviews and used minimal communication during the interviews (Ayres, Keereetaweep, Chen, & Edwards, 1998). In addition,
those with low CA differed from high CA individuals in terms of how they approached the job
interview: People with low CA felt confident, prepared, and concentrated on how they were
going to act during the interview in order to get hired (Ayres et al., 1998). In contrast, people
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Factors That Contribute to Communication Apprehension Section 5.2
with high CA fretted about being evaluated or judged, felt pressure about how to act during
the interview, were brief when describing their qualifications, and were scared of saying the
wrong thing (Ayres et al., 1998).
High trait CA can be particularly detrimental because job interviews are typically required
for an individual to be hired. As mentioned, researchers found that high CA could prevent the
apprehensive person from fully preparing for the interview (Ayres et al., 1998). Such lack of
preparation could preclude the individual from learning more about the company or creating a list of questions to ask during the interview. This feeling of unpreparedness can then
generate more apprehension, creating a communication apprehension cycle that significantly
diminishes the chances that people with high trait CA will present themselves well in interviews, which then reduces their chances of being hired. Not being hired could then reinforce
their belief that they cannot get a job, meaning they are less likely to prepare for future interviews. Such a cycle can also potentially impact how individuals view themselves in terms of
self-concept and self-image.
Public Speaking Communication Apprehension
The final form of CA is public speaking
communication apprehension, or fear
one feels when asked to give a speech or
presentation to a group of individuals. Public speaking apprehension is often the strongest form of CA. It is thus not surprising that
those with public speaking CA avoid public
speaking situations and demonstrate lower
competence when they do have to speak to
a group of people (Behnke & Sawyer, 1999;
Scott & Timmerman, 2005). Consider the
possible correlation between master of
business administration (MBA) students
and experienced levels of CA. John Burk
(2001) found that students in an MBA program had high levels of both meeting and
public speaking CA. This is an interesting
correlation because, after graduation, MBAs
will likely pursue professions that require them to participate regularly in meetings, lead discussions, and present speeches to groups of colleagues. In response to this unusual finding,
Burk (2001) recommends that MBA programs incorporate more communication courses in
their program curriculums in order to reduce these forms of CA experienced among their
students. As we discuss later in the chapter, taking courses or engaging in formal training can
be a helpful way to reduce or alleviate CA.
5.2 Factors That Contribute to Communication
Apprehension
A number of factors can affect communication apprehension. As stated in the previous section, trait CA, for example, is identified as a relatively stable personality characteristic that
Digital Vision/Photodisc/Thinkstock
ሁ Public speaking apprehension, or fear one
feels when asked to give a speech or presentation,
is often the strongest form of communication
apprehension.
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Factors That Contribute to Communication Apprehension Section 5.2
is present from birth. State CA, in addition, can emerge from a single upsetting experience.
But there are also a number of other individual and communication factors that can contribute to CA or make one’s CA more severe. Three of the most prominent factors are shyness,
introversion, and willingness to communicate, and these factors are related to branches of
research that aim to determine why some people do not communicate. We discuss each of
these factors next.
Shyness
Shyness can be at least partially genetic or can emerge from parental communication patterns
and other aspects of the child’s environment (Arroyo, Nevárez, Segrin, & Harwood, 2012). In
fact, parent shyness is correlated with adult child shyness (Arroyo et al., 2012). Shyness is
considered a relatively stable personality trait and describes an individual’s feelings of inhibition in social situations. This does not mean that shyness is a permanent part of who someone
is—you may have been shy as a child and then “grown out of it” or worked hard to overcome
your shyness when you started high school by joining different organizations. One observable behavior that is indicative of shyness is talking less than others (McCroskey, 2009). New
situations or interactions with unfamiliar people can make shyness even more pronounced.
But are shyness and CA two different concepts? Identifying the motivations behind each individual characteristic can help us understand the differences between CA and shyness. Shyness is primarily motivated by fear of what others might think. In other words, if you are
shy, you do not behave how you would like to because you are scared that others will negatively judge you by criticizing you, rejecting you, or using disconfirming messages toward you.
Indeed, shy people often think others disapprove of them, and this impacts how they view
themselves (Arroyo et al., 2012). In contrast, though judgment from others can be one reason
for CA, there are other possible reasons for communication apprehension; CA can also be
caused by fear of a communication context or situation, a lack of communication skills overall
or in a specific situation, receiving positive reinforcement for being quiet as a child, and even
difficulty learning or acquiring a new language (McCroskey, 1977).
Despite their differences, research (McCroskey & Richmond, 1982; Teven, Richmond, McCroskey, & McCroskey, 2010) consistently finds that shyness and high CA share a positive relationship. Someone who is shy and someone who experiences CA both exhibit similar behaviors,
such as talking less during communication scenarios, withdrawing from interactions, and
avoiding social situations (McCroskey & Richmond, 1982). However, research (McCroskey,
2009; Teven et al., 2010) finds that there is only a moderate correlation between shyness and
CA, suggesting that each is at least somewhat distinct.
Introversion
As a culture, the United States values an individual’s ability to engage in interactions and a
willingness to speak up. This can be troublesome for the approximately one-third to one-half
of individuals who have the personality trait of introversion (Myers, McCaulley, Quenk, &
Hammer, 1998). Introverted individuals focus their attention inward, which means that they
pay more attention to their own thoughts and feelings rather than seek outward for external
experiences or stimulation. Due to this inward focus, introverts are quiet, introspective, serious, reserved, and generally very organized. (The Web Field Trip feature explores some of the
qualities of introverts in a noisy world.) Similar to CA, introversion and its counterpart extroversion are evaluated on a continuum. In contrast to introverts, extroverts are typically more
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Factors That Contribute to Communication Apprehension Section 5.2
sociable, gregarious, energetic, and positive, focusing their attention on the world around
them. Extroverts also tend to have higher self-esteem (Krishnan & Atkin, 2014). Identifying
the distinctions between introversion and extroversion is an important step toward understanding an individual’s personality, and as such it is one component of the Big Five Factor
Model, which focuses on the five basic aspects of personality. With regard to interpersonal
communication, the more extroverted one is, the more they are motivated to communicate
with others for pleasure, to express affection, to be included, to escape, and to relax (Paulsel
& Mottet, 2004).
As with shyness and CA, introversion and CA have some similarities and differences. As you
learned, CA is one’s fear or anxiety about taking part in communication situations. Introversion, on the other hand, is not about fear of interaction. Rather than socialize with others, introverts simply prefer to spend time alone, and they feel as if their energy is drained
after spending time with others; thus, they need to recharge by themselves for a little while.
This emotional exhaustion, not fear, is what motivates introverts to avoid social situations.
Although both introverts and those with high CA avoid certain interactions, their motivations
for doing so are different.
As further evidence of the similarities and differences between these concepts, research has
consistently determined that introversion and CA are moderately correlated (McCroskey,
2009). For example, Stephanie Shimotsu and Timothy Mottet (2009) found that maladaptive
perfectionism, which occurs when a person is unable to reach goals or standards because
Web Field Trip: Speaking Up for Introverts
In 2012, the trait of introversion was thrust into the spotlight with the publication of Susan
Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Cain argues
that Western culture’s preference for extroversion, which she calls the “extrovert ideal,”
means that introverts’ traits and abilities are often misunderstood, undervalued, and even
viewed as inferior or extreme (2012, p. 4). According to Cain (2012, p. 6), this cultural
emphasis on extroversion has led many introverts to feel pressured to adopt a “pseudoextrovert” identity where they act like extroverts rather than be their naturally quiet,
introspective selves.
Cain’s book works to dispel the extrovert ideal by citing research from many different academic disciplines that, together, highlight the multiple benefits and contributions of introversion, including a focus on listening, creativity, and being careful rather than reckless.
Visit the website devoted to Cain’s book (http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/) to learn
more about the power of introverts. Review information located under “Quiet: The Book,”
take the “Quiet Quiz,” and view Susan Cain’s TED Talk.
Critical Thinking Questions
1. Do you consider yourself an introvert? If not, do you have a close friend or family
member who is introverted? What are the communication effects of introversion that
you personally experience?
2. Do you believe that our culture is becoming more attuned to accepting introversion?
Why or why not?
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Factors That Contribute to Communication Apprehension Section 5.2
these goals are excessively high, is an aspect of personality that is related to both lower extroversion and higher CA. This may mean that those who experience communication avoidance,
discomfort, and withdrawal—all byproducts of high CA—may continue to believe that they
are not able to accomplish their unreasonably high self-imposed goals (Shimotsu & Mottet,
2009), setting up a painful CA-related self-fulfilling prophecy. Take a moment to complete the
introversion–extroversion assessment in the Self-Test feature. Whatever your score is, consider how your own introversion or extroversion has impacted your interactions with others.
This self-awareness can help you to approach interactions in a way that accommodates your
level of introversion or extroversion—for example, knowing that you are an introvert can
motivate you to not schedule more meetings in a day than you can handle or to be aware that
you need some personal recuperation time after attending a party or interacting with a large
number of people.
Self-Test: Introversion–Extroversion Scale
Below are 12 statements that people sometimes make about themselves. Please indicate
whether or not you believe each statement applies to you:
1 for strongly disagree
2 for disagree
3 for undecided
4 for agree
5 for strongly agree
1. Are you inclined to keep in the background on social occasions?
2. Do you like to mix socially with people?
3. Are you inclined to limit your acquaintances to a select few?
4. Do you like to have many social engagements?
5. Would you rate yourself as a happy-go-lucky individual?
6. Can you usually let yourself go and have a good time at a party?
7. Would you be very unhappy if you were prevented from making numerous social
contacts?
8. Do you usually take the initiative in making new friends?
9. Do you like to play pranks upon others?
10. Are you usually a “good mixer?”
11. Do you often “have the time of your life” at social affairs?
12. Do you derive more satisfaction from social activities than from anything else?
(continued on next page)
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Factors That Contribute to Communication Apprehension Section 5.2
Willingness to Communicate
The final individual factor that can contribute to communication apprehension
is willingness to communicate (WTC)—
one’s preference to either initiate or avoid
interaction. Low WTC can occur for multiple reasons, including apprehension, low
self-esteem, feelings of alienation, or introversion (McCroskey, 1977, p. 79). People
may be unwilling to communicate simply
because they do not know the information,
do not feel well, or do not know the language
well enough to understand what is being
said. Low WTC is a trait that can indicate a
consistent preference to not communicate
with others, but it can also be influenced by
prior communication experiences and one’s
Ian Cumming/Axiom Photographic Agency/Getty Images
ሁ Previous communication experiences or
culture are factors that can influence one’s
willingness to communicate.
Self-Test: Introversion–Extroversion Scale (continued)
Scoring
To determine your score on the Introversion Scale, complete the following steps:
Step 1: Add scores for items 1 & 3
Step 2: Add scores for items 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Step 3: Complete the following formula:
Introversion = 12 − total from Step 1 + total from Step 2
Your score should be between 12 and 60. If you compute a score outside that range, you
have made a mistake in computing the score.
Individuals scoring above 48 are highly introverted; those scoring below 24 have low
introversion (are extroverted). Those scoring between 24 and 48 are in the moderate
range.
Source: From Scared Speechless: Communication Apprehension, Avoidance & Effectiveness (7e) by Virginia P Richmond, Jason S Wrench,
James C McCroskey. Copyright © 2018 by Kendall Hunt Publishing Company. Used with permission of Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.
Consider Your Results
1. Evaluate your score. Did you fall into the introverted or extroverted side of the spectrum? Or were you in the middle?
2. How do others potentially view you based on how you behave in accordance with this
trait?
3. What can you do to explore the other side of the spectrum (that is, if you are introverted, how can you try to act more extroverted in certain situations and vice versa)?
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Factors That Contribute to Communication Apprehension Section 5.2
culture. For example, someone from a high-context culture, where most meaning is derived
from subtle nonverbal messages and the surrounding environment, may be less willing to
communicate because the person’s culture does not place as much emphasis on direct, verbal
messages. Low WTC can also be more likely in a specific context, such as in a large group setting. Research (Pearson, Child, DeGreeff, Semlak, & Burnett, 2011) consistently finds that low
self-esteem is related to being unwilling to communicate.
Willingness to communicate is also related to a number of aspects of who we are and how we
communicate. According to communication scholar Judee Burgoon (1976), WTC is based on
two related factors. The first is approach-avoid, which identifies the anxiety that can accompany small group and interpersonal interactions and the individual’s decision to either seek
out or avoid such situations. In this sense, you are willing to either approach or avoid a communication scenario. The other factor, reward, accounts for one’s belief that relationships
with others can offer camaraderie, empathy, and valuable conversation. These perceived benefits of relationships combine to offer a reward value for interactions with others. So, if you
believe that a relationship has a reward value, then you are more willing to communicate with
that person. For example, those who have an approach orientation to communication and
who find interactions rewarding have a high WTC and are also more likely to use humor in a
variety of communication situations (Miczo, 2004).
Why would humor usage be related to the WTC trait? One researcher (Miczo, 2004) posits
that when an individual feels a greater WTC, the person is more involved, responsive, and
attentive to a conversation, and thus makes spontaneous jokes and uses humor that fits with
the topic of the interaction. In essence, those with a high WTC have more experience interacting with others and are better able to read a situation when being humorous. After all, humor
is also a useful communication skill in other ways—it aids us in maintaining positive relationships because it is related to decreased loneliness and lower stress (Miczo, 2004). Overall,
those who have a higher WTC are also able to exercise conversational skills such as humor,
and being humorous likely means others want to be around you.
Both CA and introversion can thus be related to an individual’s WTC. However, WTC is not
necessarily linked with shyness because WTC is a preference, or a conscious choice to either
approach or avoid communication, whereas shyness is a behavior, or a more inherent trait
that can initiate interaction avoidance. Shyness, introversion, and CA are moderately but consistently related to WTC (Teven et al., 2010). In other words, the shyer, more introverted, and
more communicatively apprehensive you are, the less willing you are to communicate.
These relationships between CA and CA-related characteristics have been observed in American, Finnish, Swedish, Australian, and Micronesian population samples, indicating that such
trends span multiple cultures (Sallinen-Kuparinen, McCroskey, & Richmond, 1991). However,
there are some cultural differences. For example, Americans had lower levels of CA and higher
levels of WTC than New Zealanders, and Americans were more willing to communicate with
Chinese people than Chinese people were with Americans (Hackman & Barthel-Hackman,
1993; Lu & Hsu, 2008). Even though CA and factors that contribute to CA, such as WTC, are
observed across multiple cultures, there are differences within each culture that can affect
observed levels of CA.
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Interpersonal Consequences of Communication Apprehension Section 5.3
5.3 Interpersonal Consequences of Communication
Apprehension
We have described what it means to have CA, and we have differentiated CA from the CArelated concepts of shyness, introversion, and WTC. The next step for developing confidence
in interpersonal interactions is to better understand the consequences or effects of CA and
these CA-related concepts in various communication situations.
The first broad consequence is internal to the CA individual, typically involving physical discomfort and high emotional and physiological arousal. If you find yourself in a high CA situation, your heart might beat faster, or you might start to sweat or tremble. Michael’s sweating
and clammy hands that were described at the beginning of this chapter are physiological
examples of his internal discomfort.
Beyond this immediate internal discomfort, there are other ways that CA can be experienced.
For example, general anxiety disorder (GAD) is related to CA. In addition, individuals who
were diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a biopsychosocial gastrointestinal disorder that is related to stress and anxiety, were more likely to have dyadic CA than those who
did not have IBS; and for these IBS-diagnosed individuals, the more extreme their IBS symptoms, the greater their dyadic CA (Bevan, 2009). Depressive symptoms are also associated
with high CA (Jung, 2013).
A second broad consequence of CA is the lifestyle and economic difference between those
with high and low CA. McCroskey’s (2009) review of CA research found that those with high
CA tend to have a lower chance of being hired for a job, earn less money, have lower job satisfaction, are less successful in school, and are even viewed as less credible and interpersonally
attractive than their low CA counterparts. Based on these findings, it is possible that those
with high CA could suffer academically, professionally, economically, and relationally. There
are also specific interpersonal effects of CA on their communication and relationships. Three
such consequences—loneliness, difficulty in online interactions, and communication incompetence—are discussed next.
Loneliness
As we described in Chapter 1, loneliness, which occurs when our actual number of relationships is fewer than our preferred or desired amount, is one possible consequence if we
have difficulty forming and maintaining interpersonal relationships. Many of us struggle with
loneliness. Recall from Chapter 1 that Americans have fewer confidants today than they did
20 years earlier (McPherson, Smith-Lovin, & Brashears, 2006) and that one-third of Americans experience loneliness, with Generation Z having the highest levels of loneliness (Cigna
& Ipsos, 2018). If you are lonely, you can feel alienated, meaning that you feel estranged or
apart from others.
Communication apprehension and CA-related concepts are important factors when determining whether an individual is lonely or not. Because those with CA or those who are unwilling to communicate are viewed as less believable, less physically appealing, and less satisfying to interact with in interpersonal situations (Colby, Hopf, & Ayres, 1993), they are less
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Interpersonal Consequences of Communication Apprehension Section 5.3
likely to develop and maintain close relationships with others (McCroskey, 2009). Their CA
or shyness means they are less likely to engage in social interactions and, as a result, have
minimal interpersonal contacts. For an introvert, having only a small group of friends may
be preferable because frequent social interactions can be exhausting. However, for someone
who is shy, who has CA, or who is unwilling to communicate, the resulting lack of relationships is not what that individual prefers, thus leading to loneliness. Also note that loneliness
can be context specific; taking part in distance learning is often lonely and isolating from the
students’ perspective, for example (Löfström & Nevgi, 2007).
These relationships between loneliness, CA, and CA-related characteristics have been supported by research. For example, the less a person is willing to communicate—the more the
person avoids interactions and finds that interactions are not rewarding—the greater the
person’s loneliness (Miczo, 2004). In addition, if older adults have higher levels of CA, they
are lonelier (Downs, Javidi, & Nussbaum, 1987). One interesting study focused on individuals who had placed personal ads in an Atlanta-area newspaper and found that those who
disclosed uncomfortable and potentially stigmatizing information about themselves, such as
comments about being overweight or having a criminal record, had higher dyadic and group
CA and were lonelier than those who did not include uncomfortable information (Lemieux,
Parrott, & Ogata Jones, 1999). These results suggest that those who struggle with CA and CArelated characteristics might be more likely to share information that makes others uncomfortable, possibly perpetuating existing feelings of loneliness.
Such research findings can help us better understand loneliness; but, unfortunately, loneliness may be viewed as a stigma, so few people openly acknowledge it, and it can thus become
another burden for someone who is already struggling with a fear of or an unwillingness
to communicate. However, the tide may be turning with countries such as Britain openly
acknowledging the public health dangers of loneliness by establishing a minister of loneliness
and offering formal recommendations for the country’s loneliness strategy (U.K. Department
of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, 2018). Such formal cultural acknowledgment is a step in
the right direction for reducing the stigma of loneliness.
Difficulties with ComputerMediated Communication
There are now countless opportunities to
communicate via mediated contexts. This
can be an exciting opportunity for many
people, but how does it impact those with
CA or CA-related characteristics? Craig
Scott and Erik Timmerman (2005) found
that individuals with high CA were less
likely to use audioconferencing, speakerphone, and mobile phone technologies.
These researchers also found that apprehension when using computer-mediated
communication (CMC) was related to
decreased frequency of instant messaging, online chatting, videoconferencing,
and e-mailing. These forms of CMC all can
involve group or public communication,
Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Thinkstock
ሁ There is a debate among researchers about
whether socially anxious people prefer computermediated communication to face-to-face
communication.
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Interpersonal Consequences of Communication Apprehension Section 5.3
which may be why apprehensive individuals do not embrace these new technologies (Scott
& Timmerman, 2005).
However, the relationship between CA and CMC may not be as clear-cut as Scott and Timmerman’s (2005) findings suggest. For example, in one study, shy individuals communicating
on the video game Second Life via virtual reality reported significantly less trait CA than shy
individuals communicating face-to-face, suggesting that an online environment offers a safe
haven where shy people do not “detect negative or inhibitory feedback from others” (Hammick & Lee, 2014, p. 307).
In contrast, individuals who were less willing to communicate had fewer Facebook friends
(Sheldon, 2008). Further, online distance learners scored higher on general apprehension
than on-campus students, though their extroversion scores did not differ from one another
(Mattes, Nanney, & Coussons-Read, 2003). However, introverts who had taken at least one
distance learning course in a small study in Israel reported higher grades in those courses
than extroverts, suggesting that they may achieve more academically in that learning environment (Offir, Bezalel, & Barth, 2007). These findings suggest that those with high CA might
feel more comfortable in online communication situations, but that introverts and those with
low WTC prefer to keep to themselves both online and offline.
It is possible that communication apprehension and WTC are both associated with our motivations for interacting with others online and with the rewards that we gain from such interactions. Uses and gratifications theory is a media communication theory that attempts to
understand why people select particular mediums in order to fulfill certain needs. This theory
has recently been extended to different forms of new and social media such as Facebook.
Social media users access such media for information, to communicate with others, for selfexpression, for entertainment, and to pass the time. If an individual is more apprehensive
about CMC, then they are less likely to use Facebook to communicate with others, express
themselves, be entertained, or pass time (Hunt, Atkin, & Krishnan, 2012). Another study of
gratifications that users obtained from Facebook found that those individuals who were less
willing to communicate in general were more likely to use Facebook to pass time when bored
and to decrease feelings of loneliness (Sheldon, 2008). These findings about relationships
between social media use, CA, and WTC conflict with one another and seem to depend on the
individual’s specific CA-related characteristic. In fact, there is a debate about whether socially
anxious people indeed prefer to communicate via CMC—an issue that is considered in more
detail in the IPC in the Digital Age feature.
IPC in the Digital Age: Introverts and Extroverts Online
As more people communicate online and the number of mediated interactions increases,
researchers become more interested in understanding how introverts and extroverts communicate via these channels. Two possibilities have emerged. The first, called the social
compensation hypothesis, posits that introverts would primarily benefit from online interaction. According to the social compensation hypothesis, the reduced nonverbal and verbal
cues, time delay, and anonymity in computer-mediated interactions may be appealing to
introverts because there is a lower chance of being rejected or ridiculed. Introverts might
prefer online interactions more than face-to-face interactions because the confidence they
(continued on next page)
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Interpersonal Consequences of Communication Apprehension Section 5.3
Communication Incompetence
As we have discussed, communication competence is an important interpersonal skill that
can help increase shared meaning between communicators. However, communication apprehension can be a significant barrier for those who wish to exercise communication competence in an interaction. Why does this occur? Consider those with high trait CA. They likely
avoid interactions, but when they do communicate with others, they are more likely to focus
on their internal anxiety about their CA than they are to focus on the verbal and nonverbal messages exchanged during the interaction. Each time this occurs, individuals with high
CA miss opportunities to learn and practice both appropriate and effective communication.
Their drive to avoid communicating is also likely to overpower their desire to apply their
communication knowledge and skills.
In short, those with high CA do not give themselves enough interactive opportunities to practice communication competence. This lack of competence then fortifies and justifies these
individuals’ high CA because they continue to avoid interactions, and they are not as competent when they do decide to communicate with others, which then reinforces their fear and
IPC in the Digital Age: Introverts and Extroverts Online
(continued)
feel online is compensation for the deficits that they experience in their offline interactions. In contrast, the rich-get-richer hypothesis posits that those who already easily navigate face-to-face interactions will also take advantage of opportunities to initiate online
interactions. This hypothesis predicts that extroverts will thus reap more benefits from
an online interaction because such interactions are extensions of their offline relationship skills. In other words, the rich-get-richer hypothesis asserts that individuals who are
sociable or who possess social skills will use the Internet as an alternative or an addition
to offline interaction.
Over time, research findings have revealed greater support for the rich-get-richer hypothesis. Individuals who are shy, introverted, or socially anxious do not use the Internet to
interact more frequently or for greater lengths of time. For example, in one study (Poley &
Luo, 2012), individuals who were less socially competent preferred face-to-face to online
dating and did not have a favorable view of dating on the Internet. In addition, another
study (Tian, 2013) found that bloggers with high social anxiety made fewer new friends,
interacted via blogs, and had lower relational quality with fewer existing friends than bloggers with low social anxiety. However, this is not to say that introverts or those who are
shy do not at all benefit from interacting online; they may merely see it as another form of
interaction, rather than a more preferred communication environment. Apply these findings to your own online interactions, and then consider the following questions.
Critical Thinking Questions
1. Do you consider yourself to be an introvert or an extrovert? Do you have high trait
CA, high state CA, or are you shy?
2. Do you prefer to interact online or offline? Do you think that your online behavior has
anything to do with your personality characteristics?
3. Do your own experiences in your online interactions fit with the research findings for
the social compensation or the rich-get-richer hypothesis? Why do you think that is?
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Strategies for Reducing Communication Apprehension in Interpersonal Encounters Section 5.4
anxiety. Research examining CA and communication competence consistently supports these
relationships.
• Jason Teven and his colleagues (2010) found that higher communication competence was linked with decreased communication apprehension and shyness and a
greater WTC. This inverse relationship between CA and communication competence
is consistent across age and biological sex (Donovan & MacIntyre, 2004). This means
that as CA levels increase, communication competence decreases, regardless of age
or sex.
• In a cross-cultural sample, higher levels of communication competence are associated with less shyness, introversion, and CA, and more WTC (Sallinen-Kuparinen et
al., 1991).
• In addition, increases in WTC are also associated with greater communication
competence for both Chinese and Americans; higher WTC was also related to more
language competence for the Chinese sample (Lu & Hsu, 2008). Over time, becoming acculturated to a new culture can improve communication competence, increase
WTC, and reduce CA (Hsu, 2010).
The relationship between CA and communication competence also extends to online environments. Lisa Birman and Brian Spitzberg (2006) examined technophobia, defined as the
fear, anxiety, and inability to use a technology that then leads to resistance or avoidance of
the technology altogether. Based on this definition, technophobia can be viewed as a technology-specific form of CA. Birman and Spitzberg (2006) linked technophobia to knowledge,
motivation, and skill and found that as each of these aspects of communication competence
increased, technophobia decreased. Improved communication competence helped decrease
one’s fear and apprehension about a particular technology. Later in this chapter we discuss
how understanding these relationships can help alleviate CA in mediated and online contexts.
5.4 Strategies for Reducing Communication Apprehension
in Interpersonal Encounters
Throughout this chapter, we have detailed the difficulties that individuals with high CA can
encounter in their interactions with others. Are those with some form of CA destined to
always have difficulty in certain types of interactions? The answer is no. Identifying that you
have one or more forms of CA (as opposed to, or possibly in addition to, shyness, introversion,
or an unwillingness to communicate) is the first important step to becoming a more confident
and competent communicator. In this section, we go beyond knowledge to offer three specific
strategies that you can employ to reduce your CA levels.
Understand Your Needs and Develop Communication Confidence
The first important step for developing interpersonal communication confidence is to better understand and acknowledge your own strengths and weaknesses. Do you believe that
you are shy or perhaps more unwilling to communicate? Use the self-tests provided in this
chapter to identify your level of CA and pinpoint your place on the introversion–extroversion
scale. Identifying your individual communication apprehension profile can help you figure
out which elements you need to focus on. If you discover you have a specific form of CA, then
you can work to decrease your level of CA. If you are an introvert, you may want to focus on
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Strategies for Reducing Communication Apprehension in Interpersonal Encounters Section 5.4
how to balance your preference for solitude with the expectations of social interactions—perhaps by targeting your “social energy” toward those interactions that are particularly important to you, such as an important presentation or catching up with your closest friends and
family members.
If you do not have communication apprehension, or are not shy or introverted, you do not
need to focus as much on developing interpersonal communication confidence. Instead,
you can aim to better understand these different characteristics and how they may impact
your communication with others. When you communicate with people who you believe have
CA, you can tailor your messages to attempt to make them more comfortable. You can focus
on them when they speak, nod and smile at them more frequently, and ask them questions
without drawing too much attention to them. Do not be insulted if they are quiet or excuse
themselves early from an interaction or social situation. Remember that communication is a
transaction; both communicators must work together to shape and shift the interaction and
to create shared meaning.
Develop and Practice Communication Competence
We discuss communication competence
throughout this text, but it is particularly
important in the context of CA. Those with
CA—or those who are shy, introverted, or
have low WTC—are less likely to seek out
opportunities to communicate and therefore have fewer chances to refine and
improve their communication competence
skills. Thus, one important suggestion for
developing confidence in your communication skills, especially if you have CA or an
individual CA-related characteristic, is to
revisit and focus on the components of communication competence. Determine if you
have trouble with a particular aspect of
communication competence: Is it a lack of
communication knowledge, or are you
unmotivated? Once you have identified a particular competence problem area, learn how to
improve your skills and then be sure to practice them. Try to interact more with others, or, if
you do not want to do that, try to be more aware of how competent you and others are when
you do decide to communicate. Improving your communication competence may not entirely
alleviate your CA, but it can give you more confidence to approach communication situations,
which makes the interactions less stressful and allows you to feel more comfortable and less
fearful. (The Everyday Communication Challenges feature offers tips for overcoming communication difficulties in a doctor’s office.)
monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Thinkstock
ሁ Understanding and practicing communication
skills can help you learn to manage, and possibly
overcome, communication apprehension.
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Strategies for Reducing Communication Apprehension in Interpersonal Encounters Section 5.4
Everyday Communication Challenges: Competent
Communication in the Exam Room
Some of us don’t enjoy visiting healthcare providers such as doctors, dentists, nurses,
physical therapists, or even pharmacists. There may be long wait times, painful procedures, issues with insurance coverage, or discussions about something that is embarrassing or private. So, if you are faced with a medical appointment, experiencing anxiety about
or difficulty communicating with your healthcare provider can only make things more
challenging.
A number of communication challenges can occur when someone with high CA interacts
with a healthcare provider. Interpersonal communication skills, such as giving and receiving information and building rapport and a partnership with health providers, are important for receiving high-quality healthcare, but these are some of the very skills that those
with CA or a CA-related characteristic often struggle with. The concept of willingness to
communicate about health (WTCH) specifically addresses difficulty with communicating
about health and well-being—it emphasizes the level of comfort and competence experienced when interacting with healthcare providers and being active and open when it
comes to health information (Wright, Frey, & Sopory, 2007). Researchers have identified
several different CA relationships in healthcare situations:
• Someone with high trait CA is likely to have state CA about interactions with a physician
(Richmond, Smith, Heisel, & McCroskey, 1998).
• Those with higher state or trait CA ask fewer questions, have lower levels of understanding, and spend less time in contact with physicians during medical appointments (BoothButterfield, Chory, & Beynon, 1997).
• High CA individuals also describe their interactions with their physicians as negative
in nature (Booth-Butterfield et al., 1997). Those with higher levels of WTCH are more
likely to seek health information, more assertive with their physicians, and more likely to
adhere to their physician’s prescription or recommendations (Wright et al., 2007).
• Those with higher state physician CA are less satisfied with their physician and also feel
less satisfied with the care they receive (Richmond et al., 1998). However, these relationships do not exist for people who have high trait CA, which means that someone with
general CA, but who is not anxious about talking with a physician, is not necessarily less
satisfied with their doctor or their care (Richmond et al., 1998).
These findings led researchers (Booth-Butterfield et al., 1997) to suggest that those with
communication apprehension will likely communicate about their health problems less
effectively with providers, which could then result in lower quality healthcare in the
future.
So, what can those with high state physician CA or an unwillingness to communicate about
health do to ensure that they receive proper healthcare? Because there is a power differential between patients and providers, especially during the medical exam, patients often
think that they can’t do anything to improve communication with their healthcare providers. However, remember that communication is a transaction, where both communicators
can influence the interaction.
(continued on next page)
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Strategies for Reducing Communication Apprehension in Interpersonal Encounters Section 5.4
Seek Assistance from Others
Communication apprehension is a perfectly normal, and often expected, reaction to stressful or high-pressure interactions. In fact, McCroskey (1977) points out that experiencing a
certain degree of CA is more normal than never experiencing CA in any situation! There are
many ways to reduce or at least manage CA. First, though it may be uncomfortable, it can be
helpful to seek out and take part in situations where you are particularly apprehensive. This
Everyday Communication Challenges: Competent
Communication in the Exam Room (continued)
Based on collaborative research by communication scholar Carolyn Shue and medical education researcher Louise Arnold (2009), the following list identifies communication skills
to look for in your healthcare provider and that you can use to increase your health communication competence:
• Introduce yourself.
• Explain the reason for the exam (for the patient) or the purpose or goals of the exam (for
the provider).
• Ask and answer appropriate questions to understand symptoms and other information
that is needed to reach a correct diagnosis (for the physician) or to understand or clarify
what the physician is saying and what the diagnosis and treatment is (for the patient).
• Use appropriate listening behaviors, such as not interrupting and making and maintaining eye contact.
• Express understanding verbally and nonverbally by nodding, smiling, and rephrasing
what has been said.
• Show interest in what the other person is saying.
Healthcare providers are increasingly aware of the importance of competent communication, and most medical schools now include communication in their curriculum. You should
expect that your provider communicates with you using most of the skills outlined above.
You also should strive to use these skills yourself.
Critical Thinking Questions
1. Can you recall a frustrating interaction with a healthcare provider? Was the communication competent for both parties? Why or why not?
2. With which of the specific communication skills discussed above do you think that
healthcare providers have the most difficulty? What could they do to improve that
skill?
3. With which of the specific communication skills discussed above do you think that
patients have the most difficulty? What could they do to improve that skill?
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Summary and Resources
approach allows you to treat CA by working on your communication behaviors. For example,
an important first step is taking an interpersonal communication course. The concepts covered in interpersonal courses, such as CA and communication competence, can help you to
identify areas or situations where you need to develop more confidence in your communication. In addition, you can practice and refine your skills by participating in group and inclass discussions and presentations. Your discomfort is likely to decrease as you become more
familiar with and educated about such situations.
If you remain extremely or overwhelmingly apprehensive or shy even with practice, a next
step is to seek more formal help, including training or therapy. This CA treatment approach
can help you focus on your thoughts about your own communication behaviors (McCroskey,
1984). Stress reduction exercises such as successive relaxation techniques, meditation, and
yoga, as well as clinical treatments for anxiety such as cognitive behavioral therapy and systematic desensitization (that is, diminishing our emotional responsiveness to something after
being repeatedly exposed to it), can assist with CA as well (Daly, 2011).
However, it is important to note that not everyone should feel the need to lower their CA or
CA-related characteristic. Having CA is not always a negative thing and does not always need
to be “fixed.” In fact, you can use your CA to your advantage by channeling it productively so
that you use that anxiety to become energized by and prepared for interactions that you know
can be stressful for you. If you are adjusted and happy with who you are and how you communicate with others, do not feel pressured to change.
Summary and Resources
Many of us experience some form of anxiety or insecurity when communicating with others.
This chapter explores a variety of challenges that can arise in our interpersonal communication, the primary one being communication apprehension (CA), which occurs when fear or
anxiety is associated with communication with others. Take a moment to review the information summarized in Table 5.1. Each person has a CA level that spans from low to high on a
continuum, and these CA levels differ in type and form. There are two types of CA: state, or a
temporary, situation-specific anxiety; and trait, or an enduring, consistent attribute of anxiety. Almost one-fifth of individuals have high trait CA.
Communication apprehension can also take four context-related forms: (1) dyadic, or in relation to interpersonal interactions with a particular person; (2) group, or when communicating with three or more individuals; (3) meeting, or in formal group business and professional
settings; and (4) public speaking, or when one presents to a group. An individual can have
high levels of one or more of these forms of CA. Having these forms of CA can be detrimental
in a number of ways, including being less prepared and competent and being viewed as more
nervous and offering fewer contributions.
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Summary and Resources
Table 5.1: Summary of CA types, forms, factors, and consequences
Category Item Description
Two types of CA
Trait communication apprehension
(trait CA)
A broad attribute regarding anxiety
about communication that spans
situations
State communication apprehension
(state CA)
Anxiety about communication that
occurs only in relation to a specific communication situation or context
Four forms of CA
Dyadic communication apprehension
(dyadic CA)
Anxiety about communication in relation to interactions with a particular
individual
Group communication apprehension
(group CA)
Anxiety about communication in situations where three or more people are
interacting
Meeting communication apprehension
(meeting CA)
Anxiety about communicating in a formal meeting situation
Public speaking communication apprehension (public speaking CA)
Anxiety about communicating to a large
group of people in a public setting
Three factors that
contribute to CA
Shyness Discomfort and timidity about communicating as a stable personality trait
Introversion A trait where individuals focus attentions inward and are thus quiet, introspective, and less sociable
Willingness to communicate (WTC) One’s preference to either initiate or
avoid interaction
Consequences of
CA
Loneliness Occurs when we have fewer relationships than we desire to have
Difficulties with computer-mediated
communication
Disinclination to communicate or discomfort communicating with others via
mediated channels
Communication incompetence Being ineffective or inappropriate in
one’s interactions with others
In addition, there are three factors that can contribute to CA. First, shyness is a personality trait that describes an individual as timid and uncomfortable with interaction. Shy individuals talk less than others who are not shy; the main motivation behind shyness is anxiety
about what other people think of you, and thus is typically connected to our self-concept,
self-esteem, and self-image. Second, introversion is also a stable personality trait; it involves
focusing attention internally rather than externally. This inward focus is a preference that
predisposes introverts to be quiet, serious, and to feel worn out after an extended period
of interacting with others. Third, willingness to communicate (WTC) is one’s preference to
either initiate or avoid interaction. Those who have a low WTC avoid interactions; low WTC is
related to low self-esteem. Generally, CA is consistently associated with greater shyness and
introversion and a lower WTC.
A number of consequences can arise from having CA. One can experience psychological and
physical discomfort. Further, those with high CA have more difficulties professionally, economically, academically, and relationally. For example, high CA individuals earn lower salaries
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Summary and Resources
than those with low CA. High CA people are also more likely to experience loneliness and have
difficulty communicating online and via new technologies. Finally, greater communication
apprehension is associated with decreased communication competence in both face-to-face
and mediated channels.
Critical Thinking and Discussion Questions
1. Think about a situation when you experienced CA or were unwilling to communicate. What
was it about the situation that made you feel that way? How did you communicate in that
interaction and how was it different from a situation where you felt comfortable?
2. In what forms (if any) do you have CA or a CA-related characteristic? Which of these do you
think is most important or primary in your own interactions with others and why?
3. How do you think the CA-related characteristics of introversion, shyness, and WTC have
impacted your interactions with others? Which CA consequences discussed in this chapter
have you experienced in your interactions and relationships?
4. How do you think CA and CA-related characteristics are linked to how you view yourself?
How does cultural background, self-concept, self-image, and self-esteem relate to apprehensiveness when communicating?
5. Based on the information in this chapter, what would you recommend to a friend who comes
to you and tells you that he or she wants to decrease his or her communication apprehension?
Key Terms
approach-avoid A factor related to willingness to communicate that identifies the
anxiety that can accompany small group
and interpersonal interactions and the individual’s decision to either seek out or avoid
such situations.
communication apprehension (CA) Fear
and stress, either real or imagined, associated with the anticipation of interpersonal
communication.
dyadic communication apprehension Fear one feels of interactions with
one individual and the subsequent desire to
prevent or avoid such interactions. One of
four forms of communication apprehension;
also known as person–partner CA.
extroversion The counterpart to introversion, a factor related to communication
apprehension that emphasizes an individual’s focus on external experiences or stimulation rather than having an inward focus.
group communication apprehension Fear one feels of interactions with
three or more individuals and the subsequent desire to avoid or withdraw from
such interactions. One of four forms of communication apprehension.
introversion The counterpart to extroversion, a factor related to communication
apprehension that emphasizes an individual’s focus on one’s own thoughts and
feelings rather than turning outward for
external experiences or stimulation.
loneliness A characteristic related to communication apprehension that occurs when
an individual’s actual number of relationships is fewer than the preferred or desired
amount.
meeting communication apprehension Fear one feels of participation in
formal meetings. One of four forms of communication apprehension.
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Summary and Resources
public speaking communication apprehension Fear one feels of giving speeches
or presentations to a group of individuals
and the subsequent desire to avoid such
situations. One of four forms of communication apprehension.
reward A factor related to willingness to
communicate that accounts for an individual’s belief that relationships with others can
offer camaraderie, empathy, and valuable
conversation.
shyness A factor related to communication
apprehension that is considered a relatively
stable personality trait and describes an
individual’s feelings of apprehension, timidity, discomfort, and awkwardness in social
situations.
state communication apprehension A
type of communication apprehension associated with a specific interpersonal communication context.
trait communication apprehension A
type of communication apprehension associated with interpersonal communication
that is experienced as a broad, consistent
personal attribute.
uses and gratifications theory A communication theory that attempts to understand
why people select particular mediums in
order to fulfill certain needs.
willingness to communicate (WTC) A
factor related to communication apprehension that identifies an individual’s preference to either initiate or avoid communication situations.
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