Communication apprehension and the overweight stereotype: an examination of their relationship and effects upon the perception of peers


Since 1970, a number of studies have examined the phenomenon of communication apprehension. An experiment conducted by Mccroskey and Richmond (1976) provided 1 female and 108 male college student subjects with a textual description of a fictitious~ target person that displayed characteristics of either a high or a low communication apprehensive. After completing the Personal Report of Communication Apprehension (PRCA), the subjects responded to a series of ten-point, Likert-type scales designed to measure perceptions of the target person in five categories: source credibility, interpersonal attraction (social, task, and physical), homophily, academic success, and opinion leadership. T:he.results of-this experiment supported the hypothesis that, in general, high communication apprehensive target persons were perceived less positively than low communication apprehensive targets. During the Summer of 1988, two experiments were executed to follow-up the 1976 study conducted by Mccroskey and Richmond. The first experiment replicated the 1976 study, but was only designed to measure subjects' perceptions in three areas: interpersonal attraction (social and task), projected academic success, and opinion leadership. The findings of Experiment 1 were similar to those of Mccroskey and Richmond. The measurement scales used by Mccroskey and Richmond were designed to gauge subjects' perceptions of a peer; a second experiment was conducted;that differentiated from the replication study by using another variable. The measurement scales used in Experiment 1 were duplicated exactly for Experiment 2 -- but the fictional target person in Experiment 2 was described as either endomorphic or mesomorphic (rather than as a high or low communication apprehensive). The results of Experiment 2 were largely nonsignificant except for one interesting finding: endomorphic subjects regarded endomorphic targets as significantly less likely to succeed at Public Speaking than mesomorphic targets. The methodology used in Experiment 2 was refined and repeated as a third experiment during the Summer of 1989. The results of Experiment 3 supported certain aspects of the negative overweight stereotype. When compared to the findings of Experiment 2, the results of Experiment 3 suggested that a target person described as being overweight and a high communication apprehensive is perceived less positively than a target person with a description that indicates the condition of being overweight -- but omits any reference to behaviors related to communication apprehension.


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Pryor, Burt


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences






60 p.



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Masters Thesis (Open Access)




Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences

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