Limitations of Interpersonal Communciation Research

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 imitations of the research. In the article, the authors seek to investigate communication apprehension among secretarial students. Communication apprehension is an individuals 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 ublic 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 ommunication 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 elationships 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 erform 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 accurate. 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. 2). 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 limitation because secretarial students in general may think differently. Perhaps females with communication apprehension follow office administrative fields because they think that all they need to do is sit all day and type with little talk or interaction while males in the same field do not.

Secondly, the authors come to the immediate generalization that these secretarial tudents with communication apprehension will be less successful once in a working environment others (Booth-Butterfield & Thomas, 1995, pp. 43). This parallels the first limitation where I stated that these individuals might perform rather well when the spotlight is on them. Although they may be apprehensive to communication does not necessarily mean that they cannot perform under actual situations. In this paper I have discussed the authors research on communication apprehension among secretarial students as well as the limitations of the research.

Booth-Butterfield nd Thomas give us their interpretations of their findings and feel that secretarial students have greater anxiety when it comes to communication scenerios. They even conclude that this apprehension will make these students less capable of success in future work environments. However, these statements are based on generalizations and interpretations from research with various limitations. In conclusion, there are always limitations of interpersonal communication research because it not like Mathematics where one can just measure communication levels with a ruler.


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