Communication Apprehension Term Paper

Pages: 9 (3230 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 16  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Communication

Communication Apprehension

Personal Report of Communication Apprehension (PRCA)

The difference between state CA and trait CA



Future directions

The conceptualization and study of communicative anxiety has been an area of interest to communication scholars and researchers for decades. This phenomenon has been referred to using a variety of different terms including reticence, shyness, social-communicative anxiety, communication avoidance, and communication apprehension. Although each of these terms holds specific nuances, the basic ideology remains consistent. That is, the different terminologies used all illustrate the belief that certain individuals suffer from anxiety that is produced through a degree of fear of communicating with others. During the course of this paper, the term communication apprehension (CA) is employed. CA refers to "an individual's level of fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communication with another person or persons."Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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Term Paper on Communication Apprehension Assignment

An individual can experience CA in interpersonal, small group, and/or public settings. Apprehension may be characterized as trait-or state-like depending on how and when an individual experiences discomfort. Trait CA refers to a person's disposition to feel consistently anxious in a number of communicative experiences across time, while state CA occurs in only specific situations or contexts that an individual encounters. The term receiver apprehension (RA) refers to the degree of anxiety that is felt by an individual when receiving a message. Specifically, it is "the fear of misinterpreting, inadequately processing, and/or not being able to adjust psychologically to messages sent by others." This is an area that has been neglected in the past, despite the fact that receiving messages (i.e., listening) is the most used of the communication skills. The sender and receiver of a communicative message have a reciprocal relationship, in that one cannot be performed without the other. Therefore, the ability of an individual to process messages sent from others, and the level of anxiety that is associated with that expectation, is clearly an important area of study. This is due to the impact that these factors can have during communicative exchanges. Like CA, RA can be perceived as both a trait and a state anxiety. Trait receiver apprehension implies that an individual has a predisposition to respond to communicative messages with anxiety, while state RA refers to the degree of apprehension a person may feel in a specific situation based on its particular characteristics.

Instruments - Personal Report of Communication Apprehension - Organization (PRCA)

Self-report measures are believed to be the most appropriate means to measure these apprehensions based on the notion that CA and RA are based in cognitions, therefore making the participant the most suitable person to report on those processes. The Personal Report of Communication Apprehension -Organization (PRCA-Org) form was used to measure trait-CA in a widely regarded empirical study (McCroskey, 1982). This is a modified version of the well-established PRCA-24 form that measures trait CA in dyadic, group, meeting, and public speaking contexts. The difference between the two is that the PRCA-Org form has 20 items and has been shown to be a valid instrument measuring CA in the organizational setting. The alpha reliability of the PRCA-Org was.93 in this study.

CA and RA in Organizations

Although much research has been done in the areas of communication apprehension and considerably less so on receiver apprehension, very few studies have been done measuring these anxieties in the organizational setting. Some studies have been performed assessing CA in the workplace, but no previous empirical research was located that investigated the effects of RA in the workplace. Before describing the intent of the present study, we will first discuss some key findings that have been identified through previous research in relation to communication apprehension in the organizational setting. Explorations of high levels of CA in organizations do illustrate several important discoveries. First, CA appears to have a strong influence on occupational choice. In particular, high CA's find occupations requiring less communication as more desirable than professions with higher communication requirements and expectations.

Another study examined the effects of perceived similarities in relation to communication anxiety during interviews. Although previous research demonstrated that individuals find people perceived as similar to themselves as more attractive, when the similar characteristic is anxiety, different results were obtained. These data indicated that high apprehensive individuals responded more favorably to low CA interviewers and interviewees than to their high CA counterparts. Cognitions, preparation, and behavior have also been studied in the interview context of organizations. Evidence suggests that high CA individuals do not perform as well in interviews as do low CA's. In general, high CA's were less likely to be offered a position than low CA's. This may be due to the fact that high CA's tried not to think about the impending interview, did not prepare as thoroughly, and believed that they would not perform well compared to low CA's. During the interview, high CA's talked less, looked at the interviewer less, were less positive, and asked fewer questions than did low CA individuals. High CA individuals also found it more difficult to become and remain a member of an organization. In addition, once high CA's established themselves in a position they were perceived to be less productive, less likely to achieve, and had lower job satisfaction and lower satisfaction with their supervisors.

Based on the earlier description of self and other perceptions, as well as actual behavioral results, one can surmise that generally, high CA can be a detriment to those experiencing it in an organizational context. Using this information as a base, one may also posit that experiencing high RA in the organizational environment will elicit similar outcomes. Some researchers have suggested that because of the information that has been found regarding apprehension in organizations, it would be unlikely to find highly apprehensive individuals in advanced positions within a company. Although it has been discovered that high CA people were less likely to desire advancement, and less likely to perceive themselves as likely to advance within the organization, there are no empirical data that indicate these feelings and beliefs are consistent with actual outcomes.


The first valencing factor consists of social and cultural norms. If cultural norms dictate greater spatial boundaries, less touch, and so forth, then individuals from these cultures are likely to valence such norm violations negatively. Parents even articulate immediacy norms with verbal commands (e.g., don't stare, don't push) so that learning of these norms is facilitated.

A second valencing factor is the interpersonal relationship. A large body of literature now shows that a negative relational history has a powerful impact on future communication encounters. Excessive immediacy by someone with whom you've had confict would be valenced as a threat, not as an affiliative behavior.

Third, even in the absence of a relationship "problem" negative interpersonal perceptions could create negative valencing of immediacy behaviors. Communicator characteristics as perceived by receivers include interpersonal valence, credibility, attraction, and homophily. Negative valencing on any of these person-perception dimensions could create compensatory effects just as positive valencing could cause reciprocity. A fourth valencing factor is the environmental context. Close distancing and intimate touching could be valenced positively in a bedroom and valenced negatively at the office. Certainly, spatial immediacy on a dark street at night would be interpreted differently than on the same street during the day.

Fifth, the temporary state of an individual can affect how immediacy cues are valenced. A fight with one's boss, a headache, a raise, a heavy workload, or any number of temporary factors can cause immediacy behaviors to be valenced either more positively or more negatively.

Finally, an abundance of research shows that psychological or communication traits can interact with immediacy displays to cause valencing. Researchers found that subjects with higher affiliative tendency scores were more responsive to positive immediacy behaviors from a confederate. They reported that persons with communication apprehension and anxiety were very likely to avoid social interaction and tended to withdraw from others' attempts to communicate. Indeed, they found extremely different reactions from high and low communication apprehensive in response to manipulated gaze behavior. They also reported that high and low self-monitors had different levels of intimacy expression and reciprocation; touch-avoidance may be a trait measure of responsiveness to immediacy cues.

These sorts of research findings mandate a continuance of multiple methodologies to examine immediacy behaviors. A complete picture of immediacy dictates both laboratory and field studies, theoretical and empirical research efforts, and attention to the many types of data that can be collected. These data should include interaction patterns, communication exchange, cognitive and behavioral models, physiological research, individual differences, personality and traits, and so forth. Moreover, it is imperative that the approaches be integrated into a conceptual whole to paint the most comprehensive picture of message exchange.


In male-female conversations, women use fillers, words and sounds like well, You know, I mean, or like, more than men do. In female-female conversations, women use fewer types of filler, suggesting that women are more fluent, more at ease, and less hesitant talking to other women than they are talking to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Communication Apprehension" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Communication Apprehension.  (2005, November 13).  Retrieved June 21, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Communication Apprehension."  13 November 2005.  Web.  21 June 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Communication Apprehension."  November 13, 2005.  Accessed June 21, 2021.