Limitations of Interpersonal Communication Research

Topics: Administration, Gender, Interpersonal communication Pages: 6 (779 words) Published: October 8, 1999
When taking a limit of an equation in Calculus, a limit does

not always exist. However, in the real word there are

always limitations to what people can accomplish no matter

how hard they work or try. These limitations are evident in

interpersonal commuciation research as well. In the article,

"Commucication Apprehension Among Secretarial

Students," the authors, Melanie Booth-Butterfield and

Carol C. Thomas, research and examine the levels of trait

communication apprehension among students enrolled in

college level office administration programs. In the

following paragraphs I will discuss the process and two

limitations of the research.

In the article, the authors seek to investigate communication

apprehension among secretarial students. Communication

apprehension is an individual's level of fear or anxiety

associated with communicationg with others

(Booth-Butterfield & Thomas, 1995, pp. 39). The

methodological framework utilitized by the authors was to

administer questionnaires during regular class time in four

different sections. This survey included a measure of trait

communication apprehension and anxiety across four

different areas of interpersonal, small group, meeting and

public speaking. In addition, the questionnaire asked for the

age and whether the participants have had experience in a

co-op role or as a secretary for a regular business. The

participants of the questionaire were 117 random students

enrolled at a four-year, technical business-oriented college.

Of these students, 58 were female students enrolled

full-time in office administration courses. The remaining

students were not secretarial students but were enrolled in

business administration, management, and communication

courses. The results of the survey clearly showed a higher

communication apprehension among secretarial students

than non-secretarial students rergardless of age or job

experience. Furthermore, secretarial students showed

anxiety in all four areas of communication especially in

public speaking. In conlusion to the research, the authors

say that the anxiety experienced by many office

adminstration students should be observable and will

substatntively influence their performance in classes and on

the job (Booth-Butterfield & Thomas, 1995, pp. 39).

Although this communication apprehension research seems

reasonable, limitations include the type of data used and the

relationships or generalizations that are drawn between

certain variables. To begin with, the methodological

framework utilized by the author is in the form of a

questionairre. A questionairre is basically a test to see how

one thinks of his or herself and is not necessarily accurate.

For example, an individual may think he or she is

apprehensive to communication but when actually

confronted with the scenerio may perform rather well and

without any fear or anxiety. Perhaps a better

methodological approach in gathering data is to setup an

actual communication setting and have the participants

perform to the communication task. The data should be

based on the performance as well as feedback from the

participant to see if the communication apprehension was


Another limitation to the research is the relationships or

generalizations that are drawn between certain variables.

First, of the secretarial participants that took the

questionairre, all were females. Differences in trait

communication apprehension between males and females in

the non-secretarial group were examined and showed no

significant differences (Booth-Butterfield & Thomas, 1995,

pp. 42). The authors use this data and draw a relationship

between the secretarial and non-secretarial gender to say

that in general there are no gender differences. However,

accurate as it may sound, this is another...
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