When she says what he says


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When she says what he says the influence of gender and bragging on evaluations of communication competence
Physical Description:
x, 153 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
McKenzie, Nelya Jane, 1948-
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Subjects / Keywords:
Communication -- Sex differences   ( lcsh )
Communication in management   ( lcsh )
Pride and vanity   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1994.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 142-152).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Nelya Jane McKenzie.
General Note:
General Note:

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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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aleph - 002027284
notis - AKL4882
oclc - 33003028
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Without the undeserved gift of grace received through

numinous sources of encouragement and support, this project

would never have been completed. Some among them merit

special mention. Many thanks go to the friends I made

during the course of this work. Drew McGukin, Rick Flug,

Gary Koch, Randy Dillon, and Vivian Sheer have provided

untold hours of listening, patience, and encouragement.

Their steadfastness became a constant reminder of the

important things in life.

Thanks also go to my friends back home, who never

forgot me during my sojourn in the land of gators. Without

their many displays of kindness and remembrance I would have

abandoned the journey.

I especially acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Rebecca

Cline, my committee chair, who was always accessible,

challenging, and never gave up on me. She encouraged me

when my confidence was low and allowed me to both learn with

and from her. Dr. Cline was ever pushing me to do better,

look deeper, and be more focused. At the same time, she was

always sensitive to the exhaustion and stress of graduate

study. I will always be grateful for her unwavering support

during my graduate work.

I also wish to thank my other committee members for

their assistance with this project. Dr. Anthony Clark never

failed to find time to help me with my work and frequently

managed to interject a degree of levity into a situation

where perspective often was difficult to maintain. Dr.

Rebecca Ford introduced me to a number of topics and

outstanding scholarly sources that added to my understanding

of gender and that I might never have discovered otherwise.

Dr. Leonard Tipton always had useful questions (i.e.,

questions that helped me learn something) and the foresight

to know I could one day use a file of "tables from published

articles." Dr. Donald Williams provided excellent editorial

review and never failed to acknowledge and compliment my


Most of all, I acknowledge Farish and Irma McKenzie

who, through example, have taught me many worthwhile things

about being a decent human being. For example, don't give

up, finish what you start, always do your best, and live the

"great" and "second" commandments. I find great comfort in

knowing that neither they nor God will ever desert me. My

parents continue to be the most impressive people I have

ever known.




ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS................. ...................... ii

LIST OF TABLES..................... ........ ....... ..... vii

ABSTRACT ................................................. ix


1 INTRODUCTION...................................... 1

Gender Differences............................... 2
Communication Competence......................... 4
Employment Interviews............................ 5
Gender and Communication Competence.............. 7
Rationale ................................. ...... 9
Purpose of the Study............................. 10

2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.................. ...... 12

The Nature of Gender Differences................. 12
Explanations Based on Physiology............... 12
Explanations Based on Culture.................. 15
Explanations Based on Social-Role.............. 19
The Nature of Communication Competence........... 22
A Historical Perspective....................... 22
Contemporary Issues in Defining Communication
Competence................................... 25
Basic Assumptions of Communication Competence.. 31
Communication Competence in Task-Related
Contexts ............... .................... 36
The Nature of Employment Interviews.............. 39
The Nature of Bragging.......................... 42
Communication Competence and Gender.............. 44
Gender Differences in Communication............ 45
Gender Differences in Evaluations.............. 47
Communication Competence and Employment
Interviews...................................... 51
Communication Competence and Bragging........... 55
Summary.............................................. 57

3 METHODOLOGY .. ........ .................. ......... 62

Design.. ......... ................*** ** **....... 62
Pilot Study..... ............................... 63
Operational Definitions.......................... 66
Independent Variables.......................... 66
Dependent Variables............................ 67
Initial Communication Competence Scale......... 71
Subjects......................................... 72
Procedures.................... ............. 72
Data Analysis................................... 73

4 RESULTS........................................... 75

Sample Characteristics.......................... 75
Manipulation Check.............................. 76
Scale Development................................ 77
Factor Analysis................ ............... 77
Correlations Among Factors...................... 82
Reliability .................................... 82
Descriptive Statistics........................... 83
Hypotheses and Research Questions................ 83
Gender Differences in Communication Competence. 83
Gender Differences in Communication
Effectiveness............................... 90
Gender Differences in Communication
Appropriateness............................... 94
Bragging and Communication Competence.......... 98
Gender Differences in Probability of Hiring.... 99
Probability of Hiring, Communication
Competence, Communication Effectiveness,
and Communication Appropriateness............ 100
Communication Competence and Characteristics
of the Successful Job Applicant ............. 101
Post Hoc Analysis............................... 101
Summary of Results.............................. 102

5 DISCUSSION................ ...................... 106

Overview of the Problem.......................... 106
Gender Differences............................. 107
Communication Competence....................... 108
Employment Interviews .......................... 109
Bragging ....... ................................ 110
Methods and Results.............................. 111
Conceptualizing Communication Competence......... 114
Effectiveness................................ 115
Appropriateness............................. 118
Task-Related and Social Contexts.............. 121
Gender and Task-Related Contexts................. 125
Bragging and Task-Related Contexts............... 127

Probability of Recommending Applicant Be Hired... 128
Limitations of the Present Investigation......... 130
Future Research in Communication Competence ...... 131


A HIGH BRAGGING SCENARIO........................... 134

B MODERATE BRAGGING SCENARIO....................... 135

C LOW BRAGGING SCENARIO............................ 136

PROBABILITY OF HIRING.......................... 137


CHECK.................. ........................ 141

REFERENCES............................................. 142

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.................................... 153


Table page

1 Factor Analysis of Appropriateness and
Effectiveness Measures...................... 78

2 Sorted Factor Analysis of Appropriateness
and Effectiveness............................ 80

3 Pearson Product-Moment Correlations among
Conversational Appropriateness, Relational
Appropriateness, Conversational Effectiveness
and Communication Competence................. 82

4 Descriptive Statistics for Communication
Competence ......... ......................... 84

5 Descriptive Statistics for Conversational
Effectiveness................................ 85

6 Descriptive Statistics for Conversational
Ineffectiveness............................. 86

7 Descriptive Statistics for Conversational
Appropriateness.............................. 87

8 Descriptive Statistics for Relational
Appropriateness.............................. 88

9 Descriptive Statistics for Probability
of Hiring................................... .. 89

10 Analysis of Variance for Communication
Competence................................... 90

11 Analysis of Variance for Conversational
Effectiveness............................... 92

12 Effect of Level of Bragging on Conversational
Effectiveness............................... 92

13 Analysis of Variance for Conversational
Ineffectiveness.............................. 93


14 Effect of Level of Bragging on Conversational
Ineffectiveness............................. 94

15 Analysis of Variance for Conversational
Appropriateness............................... 95

16 Effect of Level of Bragging on Conversational
Appropriateness............................... 96

17 Analysis of Variance for Relational
Appropriateness............................. 97

18 Effect of Level of Bragging on Relational
Appropriateness............................... 97

19 Effect of level of Bragging on Communication
Competence................. .... .............. 98

20 Analysis of Variance for Probability of
Hiring........................................ 99

21 Pearson Product-Moment Correlations for
Characteristics of the Successful Job
Applicant, Communication Competence,
Communication Effectiveness, and
Communication Appropriateness ................ 103

22 Post Hoc Analysis of Variance for
Communication Competence..................... 104


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy




August 1994

Chair: Rebecca J. Cline
Major Department: Communication Processes and Disorders

This investigation reports analyses of the influence of

gender and bragging on evaluations of communication

competence, effectiveness and appropriateness, and

probability of a recommendation to hire. Three employment

interview scenarios, with verbatim transcripts, representing

"High" (HLB), "Moderate" (MLB) or "Low" (LLB) levels of

bragging, and each attributed to either a male or female job

applicant, were used as the treatment stimuli. Each

subject, assuming the role of interviewer, read one

scenario. Subjects then evaluated the job applicant by

responding to a communication competence scale adapted for

this study. Subjects also indicated the probability of a

recommendation to hire. Factor analysis revealed four

independent factors in the communication competence scale.


They were labeled Conversational Appropriateness (CA),

Relational Appropriateness (RA), Conversational

Effectiveness (CE), and Conversational Ineffectiveness (CI).

Evaluations of male and female job applicants' overall

communication competence, CA, RA, CE, and CI, did not differ

by sex of applicant or sex of respondent. Evaluations did

differ by level of bragging. HLB consistently resulted in

statistically significant lower evaluations of communication

competence, CA, RA, CE, and CI than did LLB or MLB for male

and female job applicants. The differences between means

for evaluations of overall communication competence, CA, and

RA were statistically significant at all three levels of

bragging. The differences between means for evaluations of

CE and CI were statistically significant for MLB and HLB

only. HLB also resulted in a statistically significant

lower probability of a recommendation to hire than did LLB

or MLB. Males were more likely to recommend hiring than

were females. Results of this study suggest that

evaluations of communication competence in one task-related

context (employment interview) are more strongly influenced

by the propriety of a specific communication behavior than

by gender.


When little is known about an interaction partner,

communicators tend to look for clues from the partner that

suggest not only how they themselves should communicate, but

what to expect from the other communicator as well. Sex of

partner is a particularly informative clue in such

circumstances. The sex of the interactants often provides

the basis for evaluations of communication behavior. This

is particularly true of initial interactions.

Based on cultural presumptions of differences between

the sexes, individuals hold different beliefs about the

expected behaviors of men and women. For example, men are

expected to be adventurous, competitive, dominant, and

decisive, whereas women are expected to be compassionate,

submissive, and emotional (Rosen & Jerdee, 1976). Many

presumed "differences between the sexes" are based on

stereotypes of male and female behavior that tend to guide

individuals in their performance, expectations, and

evaluations of behavior (Spence, Deaux, & Helmreich, 1985;

West & Zimmerman 1987). As a result, individuals often

evaluate men and women performing the same behavior in

different ways.

Gender Differences

The terms "sex" and "gender" can be confusing, in that

they are sometimes used interchangeably. However, scholars

make a distinction between the two terms. "Sex" is

biologically determined. From birth, most persons are

clearly male or female. In contrast to sex, "gender" is a

product of one's culture and is influenced by one's

socialization into that culture (Eakins & Eakins, 1978;

Rakow, 1986). Cultures establish norms of appearance and

behavior which are labeled "masculine" or "feminine" (Bem,

1981), and as individuals adopt these normative behaviors

they learn how to be and become categorized as a boy or girl

or man or woman.

Scholars agree that socialized gender differences exist

in terms of both expected and actual behaviors for men and

women. (For reviews see Aries, 1987; Deaux, 1985; Eagly,

1987; Hall, 1984.) For example, men are perceived to be

more instrumental (task-oriented) in their communication

than are women and women are perceived to be more expressive

(other-oriented) in their communication than men (Eagly,

1987; Spence et al., 1985). Consequently, most members of

society recognize and anticipate substantial differences in

behavior based on the gender of the communicator. That is,

both men and women expect men and women to behave

differently. The result is differing evaluations by both

men and women of men's and women's identical or similar


performances. The power of these anticipated differences to

influence the evaluation of behaviors is manifested in

gender stereotypes.

Stereotypes are broadly held overgeneralizations about

some group (Basow, 1986). According to Eagly (1987),

"people act to confirm the stereotypic expectations that

other people hold about their behavior" (p. 15) and

expectancy-confirming behaviors are particularly likely when

they are broadly shared in a society. Thus, one's gender

creates self-fulfilling prophecies relative to behavior.

According to Eagly, not only do women and men perceive each

other behaving differently, they also believe that women and

men ought to behave differently. Among those expected

behavioral differences are communication behaviors.

Within western culture, which forms the cultural basis

for this work, communicative behaviors considered culturally

appropriate for men are not necessarily considered

culturally appropriate for women and vice versa. As

individuals interact, their evaluations of themselves and

others may be influenced more strongly by expectations of

what men and women should do than by what men and women

actually do. For example, men and women who brag equally

often in terms of their actual behavior will be evaluated

differently if bragging is considered acceptable as a

masculine behavior, but unacceptable as a feminine behavior.

As a result, women who brag may be evaluated less favorably

than men who brag.

Despite the increased visibility of the importance of

"gender differences" in evaluations of communication

behavior (Spitzack & Carter, 1987), many contexts in which

communication may be influenced by expectations of gender

specific communication behaviors have yet to be examined.

In particular, there is a paucity of research regarding the

influence of gender on evaluations of communication

competence in task-related interactions.

Task-related interactions are an important context for

evaluations of communication competence, because of the

potential impact a positive or negative evaluation can have

on one's occupational success (Spitzberg & Brunner, 1989).

As the number of instances in which men and women are vying

for the same job or promotion increases, the influence of

gender on evaluations of communication competence becomes an

issue of practical import.

Communication Competence

"Communication competence" refers, in general, to

communication ability. Communication competence is

comprised of communicative "effectiveness" and

"appropriateness" (Bochner & Kelly, 1974; Spitzberg &

Cupach, 1984; Wiemann, 1977). "Effectiveness" is the degree

to which communicators accomplish their goals in a

communicative interaction (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1989).

"Appropriateness" is the degree to which interaction goals

are achieved in a socially acceptable manner (Spitzberg &

Cupach, 1989). Numerous scholars conclude that

appropriateness and effectiveness are fundamental properties

of communication competence and that both must be considered

in any study of communication competence (e.g., Bochner &

Kelly, 1974; Spitzberg & Cupach, 1984; Wiemann, 1977).

Scholars contend that communication competence is more

than just a "hoped-for" accomplishment in an interaction; it

is necessary to one's ability to function adequately in

society (Larson, Backlund, Redmond, & Barbour, 1978).

According to Spitzberg and Brunner (1989), communication

competence has been implicated in occupational success or

failure, as well as a host of other social phenomena (e.g.,

academic success/failure, loneliness, self-esteem).

Communication competence, then, can be considered an

important aspect of the initial employment interview, as the

interview presents a major turning point in one's

occupational success or failure.

Employment Interviews

"Good communication skills" have been identified as a

desired quality in job applicants (Goodall & Goodall, 1982).

Thus, applicants who demonstrate competent communication in

an initial employment interview may be evaluated more

favorably than those who do not. However, male applicants

generally tend to be evaluated more favorably than equally

qualified female applicants (Arvey, 1979; Arvey & Campion,

1982). Thus, there is a need to more clearly understand the

relationship between gender and evaluations of competence,

and specifically communication competence, in this task-

related context.

A number of communication behaviors have been

investigated within the context of an employment interview.

For example, nonverbal behaviors such as eye contact and

body posture (Hollandsworth, Kazelskis, Stevens, & Dressel,

1979), vocal qualities such as fluency of speech and dialect

(Hopper, 1977) and content, particularly in relation to

revealing unfavorable information about oneself (Rowe,

1989), have been investigated. One verbal form that has

received little attention in the context of an employment

interview is bragging. Bragging can be defined as boasting

about oneself or one's achievements in a way that excludes

contributions by or assistance from others.

Bragging has been shown to enhance one's rating of

competence or ability when the audience has little or no

other information to go on (e.g., when someone makes claims

about either a past or future performance on a task)

(Schlenker & Leary, 1982). Consequently, bragging is one

communication strategy that interviewees may use in an

employment interview. However, women tend to be evaluated

less favorably when they brag than do men (Miller, Cooke,

Tsang, & Morgan, 1992). Thus, women who try to express

their job qualifications by bragging likely will be

evaluated less favorably, by both male and female

interviewers, than men who demonstrate the same behavior.

It appears then, that men are at an advantage when competing

against women for employment. Social norms seem to allow

men more opportunity to expound upon their experiences and

qualifications by bragging. And, because bragging can

enhance one's rating of competence, i.e., general ability

(Miller et al., 1992; Schlenker & Leary, 1982), men will

tend to appear more competent than equally qualified women.

Thus, understanding the influence of gender and

communication behaviors such as bragging on evaluations of

communication competence in an employment interview is

important, particularly when such evaluations have

implications for possible social and economic gains.

Gender and Communication Competence

A review of extant literature on communication

competence reveals limited attention to gender differences

(e.g., Duran, 1983; Larson et al., 1978; Spitzberg & Cupach,

1984; Wiemann, 1977). The lack of attention to gender

differences suggests that what we know about communication

competence may not be equally applicable to both males and

females and that the knowledge we have may be biased by a

"male as norm" fallacy. According to Spence et al. (1985),

until the 1980's, males tended to be regarded as the norm in

much psychological research, and individual differences such


as gender were considered "nuisance variables" (p. 150). As

a result, many empirical studies treated all persons

identically, failing to account for behavioral differences

based in gender socialization (Fitzpatrick, 1983). Given

the overwhelming evidence that males and females differ in

their communication styles and content (e.g., Birdwhistle,

1970; Gilligan, 1982; Zimmerman & West, 1975), they likely

differ in communication behaviors that demonstrate effective

and appropriate communication as well. In other words,

behaviors that are evaluated as communicatively competent

may differ for men and women.

Despite the probability that men and women perform

communication competence differently, as they do other

behaviors (e.g., self-disclosure, nonverbal) (for a review

see Wallston & O'Leary, 1981), scholars continue to conduct

research which fails to address the influence of gender.

For example, in their test of a model and scale of

communicator competence in the work place, Monge, Bachman,

Dillard, and Eisenberg (1982) investigated the communication

competence of supervisors and subordinates, but made no

reference to gender differences in these positions.

Likewise, in a recent investigation of social support among

the elderly, Query, Parry, and Flint (1992) reported

positive correlations between levels of cognitive

depression, size of social support network, and

communication competence. Although the authors associated

gender of respondent with size of social support network,

they failed to articulate any direct association between

communication competence and gender.

In summary, evaluations of the communication competence

of both women and men likely will be based, to some degree,

on expectations associated with gender stereotypes. Because

men and women performing the same behavior often are

evaluated differently by both men and women, what is

evaluated as appropriate and effective communication

behavior may differ for men and women. However, an initial

perusal of the communication competence literature suggests

that research, for the most part, has tended to ignored

issues of gender in task-related contexts. Differences in

evaluations of communication competence, particularly in

task-related contexts such as employment interviews, may

place women at a disadvantage, resulting in unequal

employment opportunities and economic inequality.


This research sought to investigate the influence of

gender on evaluations of communication competence,

communication effectiveness, and communication

appropriateness. Men and women performing the same or

similar behavior often are evaluated differently by both men

and women. At issue in this study, was whether men and

women who demonstrate the same communication behavior in an

initial task-related context are evaluated equally in terms

of communication competence, effectiveness, and


Gender-role theory suggests that, based solely on

gender, different normative behaviors are expected of men

and women in a number of areas, including communication

behaviors. Bragging appears to be one such communication

behavior. Research (e.g., Miller et al., 1992) indicates

that when men and women brag equally, women are evaluated

less favorably than men who demonstrate the same behavior.

Thus, bragging provides a framework from which the influence

of gender on evaluations of communication competence,

effectiveness, and appropriateness can begin to be assessed.

Purpose of the Study

Using gender-role theory as a basis for generating a

set of hypotheses and research questions, the present study

was designed to examine the influence of gender and bragging

on evaluations of communication competence. Specifically,

the study analyzed evaluations by men and women of the

communication competence of other men and women engaging in

the same communicative behavior--bragging--in a task-related

initial interaction, the employment interview. The

following chapters provide a review of literature related to

gender-role theory and communication competence, a

description of the procedures used in the study, a

discussion and analysis of the results of the study, and a


discussion of findings and conclusions. Complete appendices

and a reference list conclude this report.


The present study examines the influence of gender on

evaluations of communication competence in a task-related

initial interaction. This chapter provides a background for

the study by reviewing the literature which relates to the

nature of gender differences in social behavior,

communication competence, employment interviews, and

bragging. The chapter includes an examination of

implications of the literature reviewed for the study of

gender and evaluations of communication competence.

The Nature of Gender Differences

Three prominent theoretical perspectives attempt to

explain the nature of gender differences: physiological

premises, socialization and cultural explanations, and

social-role theory. All three views have implications for

communication behaviors and attributions about these


Explanations Based on Physiology

A number of theorists argue that the biological

differences between males and females result in

predispositions to behave in predictably different ways.

For example, the relatively higher levels of the hormone

testosterone typically found in males often is used to

explain higher levels of aggression in males than females

(Maccoby & Jacklin, 1974, 1980; Stockard & Johnson, 1980),

although research has produced equivocal results (Deaux,

1985; Fausto-Sterling, 1985). Thus, from a physiological

perspective, gender differences are argued to be genetically


Physiological differences are more a matter of degree

than kind. For example, both sexes possess all three groups

of sex hormones (Money & Ehrhardt, 1972), but individuals

differ in the amounts of each hormone that they possess.

Differences in hormone levels often are argued to explain

differences in male and female behavior (Jacklin, 1989),

especially mood changes. For example, both men and women

believe that some negative mood changes in women are the

result of premenstrual hormone changes (Tavris, 1992).

However, "the variability of moods in females has not been

found significantly different from the variability of moods

in males matched for lifestyles" (Basow, 1986, p. 31). The

expectation of "mood changes" simply may be a self-

fulfilling prophecy or a case of the same behavior being

judged differently (Ramey, 1976).

Physical differences between males and females

typically are greatest in terms of size, weight, and

strength. Adult males typically are larger, heavier, and

stronger than adult females. However, the significance of

even these sex differences is diminishing. Research has

shown that women who receive regular athletic or physical

strength training are comparable to men in athletic

performance (Hall & Lee, 1984).

Differences in size, weight, and strength may account

for a number of social distinctions made regarding

appropriate behavior for men and women. The division of

labor by sex is attributed to these physical differences

(Basow, 1986). Certain occupations or labors have come to

be more closely associated with members of one sex than the

other (Tavris, 1992). Because of their smaller size and

strength, women traditionally have been perceived to be more

suited to nonthreatening work such as housework and child

care. In contrast, because of their larger size and

strength, men have been perceived to be more suited to

competitive, dangerous, and strenuous work.

In summary, the physiological perspective presumes that

males and females are inherently different from birth and

that these differences predispose them to behave in

different ways. However, an examination of differences from

a physiological perspective shows that biological

differences between the sexes are more a matter of degree

than substance. According to Eagly (1987), the biological

differences between men and women (e.g., men's greater

physical size and strength), likely encourage, rather than


cause, men and women to exhibit behaviors that have come to

be labeled masculine or feminine in a particular culture.

Therefore, explanations of gender differences based on

physiology fail to adequately explain the nature of gender


Explanations Based on Culture

A culture consists of structures and practices that

sustain social order by legitimizing and passing on certain

values, beliefs, expectations, and patterns of behavior

(Weedon, 1987). "Gender," as a social construct, is one

"structure" and "practice" that is legitimized and passed on

by culture.

Based on the cultural perspective, the behavior and

identity of men and women are not determined by genes or

hormones. Instead, gender identity results from the

reconfirmation of biological sex through gender

socialization (Basow, 1986). Through gender socialization,

behaviors that conform to the social expectations associated

with sex class are passed on from one generation to the

next. Thus, the cultural point of view focuses on how

people learn to view the world and the attitudes and beliefs

about people as men and women that emerge from that view.

Some scholars argue that U.S. American men and women

actually grow up in different subcultures in which they

learn different world views (e.g., Gilligan, 1982; Maltz &

Borker, 1982).


Gilligan (1982) and Maltz and Borker (1982) argue that

sex differences demonstrated in the communication patterns

of men and women have their origins in culture or, more

accurately, in subculture. According to Maltz and Borker,

people learn appropriate gender roles and the associated

rules for interacting from their peer groups. Because

childhood peer groups tend to be segregated, boys and girls

essentially learn different ways of interacting and viewing

the world. Thus, the interaction rules for men and women

differ. Because rules and their conditions of application

are culturally sanctioned (Ginsburg, 1988), the rules of

interaction learned in childhood are resistant to change and

consequently continue to be applied in adulthood.

The subculture of girls. Gilligan (1982) investigated

gender differences by listening to the life experiences of

boys and girls expressed in their talk. She found evidence

that women experience a world of connection with others and

often define themselves in terms of responsibilities to

others. According to Maltz and Borker (1982), "friendship

is seen by girls as involving intimacy, equality, mutual

commitment, and loyalty. The idea of 'best friend' is

central for girls" (p. 205). In addition, relationships for

girls tend to be formed through talk and inclusive language

forms such as "us" and "we" are common. Although conflicts

do arise, girls learn to criticize and argue with others in

ways that are not viewed as overly aggressive or "bossy."


Maltz and Borker contend that the patterns of communication

evident in adult women's conversation show a marked

similarity to the talk of girls.

The subculture of boys. Gilligan (1982) found that men

experience a world of individuation. That is, men tend to

separate themselves from others, a behavior that allows them

to emphasize the individual while deemphasizing

relationships with others. In contrast to the equality

emphasized among girls, boys tend to play in hierarchically

organized groups (Maltz & Borker, 1982). Status always is

changing as boys move from one group to another. Also in

contrast to girls, boys use speech for the expression of

dominance rather than relationship formation. Verbal

commands, verbal ridicule, and verbal threats or boasts of

authority are common features of boys' speech. In addition,

boys are likely to engage in storytelling and joke telling

as a way of gaining and maintaining audience attention. As

is the case with girls and women, Maltz and Borker find

striking resemblances between adult men's speaking patterns

and those observed in boys.

In summary, because boys and girls maintain segregated

groups, they fail to learn the cultural rules that guide the

activities of the other sex. These cultural differences

lead men and women to have different conceptualizations of

conversation, rules for engaging in conversation, and rules

for interpreting conversation (Maltz & Borker, 1982). For

example, women seem to use minimal responses such as "yes"

and "mm hmm" as an affirmation of attention to the speaker

while men use the same responses to indicate agreement with

the speaker. Different conceptualizations, rules, and

interpretations of conversation obviously can lead to

different evaluations of the same behavior. The cultural or

socialization explanation for gender differences suggests

that patterns of sex-specific behaviors learned in

childhood, guide the activities and relationships of adult

men and women.

The cultural approach to explanations of gender

differences has its critics. One consistent criticism of

the approach is the assertion that learned behaviors remain

relatively unchanged from childhood through adulthood (e.g.,

Eagly, 1987; Ridgeway & Diekema, 1992). As Johnson (1993)

explains, "the socialization perspective predicts that

without specific training to eliminate gender effects" (p.

194), gender will continue to affect the behavior of men and

women in stereotypic ways. Critics argue that men and women

continue to learn and change as their situations change

(Ridgeway & Diekema, 1992). Social-role theory, which

provides the theoretical basis for the present study,

accounts for these changes and regards the cultural

perspective as a necessary but not sufficient explanation of

gender differences.

Explanations Based on Social-Role

Social-role theorists (e.g., Eagly, 1987) contend that

gender differences are a product of the situational roles

men and women play and that people act in accordance with

the demands of the roles they are assigned in a given

situation. Overall, people form their gender role

expectations from observing what men and women do.

According to Ridgeway and Diekema (1992), "what they see is

men, because of their work roles, engaging in more agentic

behaviors (task-oriented, directive behaviors) than women,

and women, due to their homemaker roles, enacting more

communal interpersonallyy oriented) behaviors than men" (p.


Eagly (1987) differentiates between the social-role and

socialization perspectives on gender differences. The

social-role perspective is a structural approach that

suggests that "members of social groups experience common

situational constraints because they tend to have the same

or similar social positions within organizations and other

structures such as families" (p. 9). However, the

socialization perspective is a cultural approach that

suggests, "members of social groups acquire common beliefs

and values because of the socialization pressures they

experience during childhood" (p. 9). Thus, the social-role

perspective focuses on the behavioral expectations

associated with one's position in a hierarchy (structure)


rather than cultural beliefs and values. Eagly argues, "sex

differences reflect the differing social positions of women

and men more strongly than differing beliefs and values that

may be instilled during childhood socialization" (p. 9).

According to Eagly (1987), people have a social role

based solely on their gender. "Gender roles are defined as

those shared expectations (about appropriate qualities and

behaviors) that apply to individuals on the basis of their

socially identified gender" (p. 12). Many aspects of gender

stereotypes make up the social norms associated with gender

roles (Eagly, 1987).

Eagly posits three criteria for social norms associated

with gender roles. First, society comes to regard

stereotypic sex differences as both appropriate and

desirable. People not only perceive sex differences in

behavior, but believe men and women ought to differ in many

ways. Second, there is high consensus on what differences

exist and the desirability of these differences. Third, the

society is aware of the consensus regarding the ways in

which men and women ought to differ. Thus, when men and

women conform to different gender roles, they also conform

to different norms of appropriate behavior.

Gender roles "induce stereotypic sex differences"

(Eagly, 1987, p. 31). Conformity to gender roles and the

normative behaviors associated with those roles, coupled

with a belief that the behaviors are socially desirable,


generates expectations of one's own behavior as well as that

of others.

Eagly (1987) and Ridgeway and Diekema (1992) emphasize

the importance of proximate causes of behavioral

differences. These scholars argue that gender role may not

be the salient social role operating in a given interaction.

For example, in the interaction between a male executive and

his female secretary, work roles may provide a more accurate

explanation of behaviors than gender roles. "Gender role

expectations determine behavior directly only when other

roles in the situation are ambiguous" (Ridgeway & Diekema,

1992, p. 166).

Research clearly and consistently indicates that men

and women performing the same behavior often are evaluated

differently (cf. Bradley, 1984; Foschi, 1992; Goldberg,

1968; Smith & DeWine, 1991; Wallston & O'Leary, 1981).

Gender-role theory suggests that differences in evaluations

can be attributed to the disparate normative and stereotypic

behavior expected of men and women based on their unequal

positions in society. However, gender-role theory predicts

that when men and women occupy equal positions within an

institution, evaluations of behavior should be relatively


As males and females mature, most will take on an

increasing number of social-roles (e.g., spouse, parent,

employee, employer) while retaining many of the former roles

(e.g., child, sibling, man, woman). Because of the ever-

changing nature and number of roles individuals hold within

society, gender-role theory provides a more reasonable

explanation for existing gender differences, and evaluations

of those differences, than does either the physiological or

cultural explanations. Therefore, gender-role theory is the

theoretical perspective guiding this research.

The Nature of Communication Competence

Spitzberg and Hecht (1984) and Wiemann (1977) suggest

that communication competence involves impression formation.

Thus, communication competence may not be simply a matter of

what is effective and appropriate for a given context and

relationship, but what is effective and appropriate for the

gender of the participants as well. However, little

attention has been given to the influence of gender on

evaluations of communication competence. Therefore, this

section examines the nature of communication competence,

providing a discussion of the historical perspective of

communication competence, issues surrounding the definition

of communication competence, and communication competence as

it relates to gender.

A Historical Perspective

The study of effective communication has its origins in

rhetoric and Aristotle often is cited as the single most

influential figure in rhetoric (McCroskey, 1984; Spitzberg &

Cupach, 1984). As McCroskey (1984) points out, the label

"communication competence" may be relatively new in our

field, but the concept is "a continuation of a centuries-old

tradition" (p. 260). Although Aristotle emphasized

persuasion in his teaching, he also addressed issues of

audience adaptation, topoi, and credibility. According to

Spitzberg and Cupach (1984), "rhetoric introduced the

systematic 'art' of effective communication and provided a

forum for accumulating knowledge about using actions and

symbols to accomplish specific objectives" (p. 31). Thus,

communication competence from a rhetorical perspective

encompasses effectiveness. That is, not only must a person

be able to express him- or herself "eloquently," but he or

she must be able to do so in a manner that leads to "the

accomplishment of a desired effect" (p. 15) (i.e., goal


In contrast to the overt performance traditional in

rhetoric, the linguistic perspective of competence focuses

on the underlying mental structures that allow persons to

construct speech. The linguistic approach to communication

competence has its origins in the work of Noam Chomsky.

Chomsky (1965) viewed competence as "the speaker-hearer's

knowledge of his language" (p. 4). Chomsky made a clear

distinction between competence and performance. Whereas

competence was knowledge of language, Chomsky viewed

performance as the use of language in situations and nothing

more than a vehicle for demonstrating competence (i.e., how

well a person knows his or her language). Chomsky was not

concerned with communication or the impact of context and

social conditions on performance. Nevertheless, linguistic

competence is important to an understanding of communication

competence because linguistic skills represent the minimal

level of communication competence (Spitzberg & Cupach,


Hymes (1972), a sociolinguist, challenged Chomsky's

(1965) conceptualizations of competence and performance.

Hymes (1972) viewed Chomsky's focus on knowledge of language

structure (competence) to the exclusion of situational

factors that influenced language use (performance) as

unrealistic. Hymes expanded the notion of competence,

labeling it "communicative competence" (Cooley & Roach,

1984), and argued that a person's competence refers to

knowledge of language and knowledge of how, when, and where

to use the language. According to Hymes,

A normal child acquires knowledge of sentences, not
only as grammatical, but also as appropriate. He or
she acquires competence as to when to speak, when not,
and as to what to talk about with whom, when, where, in
what manner. (p. 277)

Thus, Hymes included the notion of context and

appropriateness (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1984) in his

conceptualization of communicative competence. That is, not

only does a person learn how to speak, but he or she also

learns to use language in a way that does not violate social


Whereas Chomsky's (1965) conceptualization of

linguistic competence focused on knowledge of grammatical

rules, Hymes' perspective on communicative competence

implied "knowledge of cultural, social, and interpersonal

rules for acceptability of behavior" (Spitzberg & Cupach,

1984, p. 67). Hymes recognized that factors other than just

knowledge of language affect the performance of competent


In summary, communication competence, as it is studied

today, includes attention to effective communication

traditional in rhetoric, as well as attention to appropriate

communication traditional in sociolinguistics. Perhaps

because of the diffuse history of communication competence

(Cooley & Roach, 1984; Spitzberg & Cupach, 1984), a precise

definition of the construct remains elusive.

Contemporary Issues in Defining Communication Competence

In any discussion of communication competence, the

first "problem" is defining the concept. Wiemann and

Backlund (1980) and Spitzberg and Cupach (1984) suggest that

the primary problem with defining "communication competence"

stems from the wide range of definitions and studies of

"competence" that can be found in the literature. Theorists

and researchers use a variety of terms to designate

communication competence. For example, scholars use terms

such as "interpersonal competence," "communicative

competence," "social competence," and "relational

competence" (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1989).

Readers often must judge for themselves where the

differences, if any, lie between the term "communication

competence" and an author's use of another term. According

to Spitzberg and Cupach (1989), various authors use these

terms with little consistency. For example, Larson et al.

(1978) state that "interpersonal competence" often is used

as a synonym for "communication competence." Yet, Larson et

al. view communication competence and interpersonal

competence as distinctively different concepts. They

describe interpersonal competence as communication focused

on goal achievement. In contrast, communication competence

is defined as "the ability to demonstrate knowledge of the

communicative behavior appropriate in a given situation" (p.

21). As Phillips (1983) states, "defining competence is

like trying to climb a greased pole" (p. 24).

The voluminous nature of the literature represents a

variety of focal points in conceptualizing communication

competence. Spitzberg and Cupach (1989) categorized the

attempts to define communication competence according to

four dichotomies: outcome-focused versus message-focused;

state versus trait; molar versus molecular; and, cognitive

versus behavioral. These dichotomies provide an organized

way to discuss the "huge and fragmented" (p. 2) literature

on communication competence.

Outcome-focused versus message-focused. Outcome-

focused approaches to communication competence are concerned

primarily with goal achievement in interaction. The ability

to adapt to changing social and environmental conditions in

order to achieve desired outcomes is viewed as a fundamental

aspect of social competence (Duran, 1983; Spitzberg &

Cupach, 1984). Thus, from an outcome-focused perspective,

adaptability generally is considered the vital aspect of

communication competence.

Message-focused approaches to communication competence

are concerned primarily with linguistic competence and

message content (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1984). Linguistic

competence focuses on knowledge of the language while a

sociolinguistic perspective focuses on knowledge of how,

when, and where to use the language. Thus, message-focused

approaches attend to the ability to generate appropriate

messages and language for varied contexts.

Trait versus state. As a trait, communication

competence spans "place, time, and activity to reflect a

proclivity or tendency across contexts" (Spitzberg & Cupach,

1984, p. 85). The trait approach implies that an individual

either is competent or incompetent in general.

As a state, communication competence is context

specific, "manifested in a specific communicative encounter,

and not necessarily across encounters" (Spitzberg & Cupach,

1984, p. 88). A states approach implies that individuals

vary in competence as communication situations vary. Thus,

an individual's competence is judged within the parameters

of a given context rather than in general. For example,

Morse and Piland (1981) found differences in the

communication competencies nurses felt they needed in their

relationships with other nurses, patients, and physicians,

indicating that the same behaviors were not appropriate for

all three relationships.

A number of scholars argue that communication

competence is both state and trait. Thus, neither

communication competence as state nor trait can be ignored

(Duran, 1983; Parks, 1985; Spitzberg & Cupach, 1984; Wiemann

& Bradac, 1989; Wiemann & Kelly, 1981). As Spitzberg and

Cupach (1984) suggest, state and trait competence are not

mutually exclusive. Traits such as self esteem and

rigidity, contribute to situational competence when they

facilitate or hinder appropriate and effective


Molar versus molecular. Molar approaches focus on

global and abstract perceptions of communication competence

such as credibility or empathy. Molecular approaches focus

on specific communication behaviors such as asking questions

or listening. Molecular approaches often are labelled

"skills" approaches. Spitzberg and Cupach (1984) argue that

both molar and molecular impressions must be considered when

assessing communication competence, because people appear to

assess both specific and general behaviors when forming

impressions of conversations and conversants. Thus,

competent communicators must concern themselves with global

impression making as well as the performance of specific

situationally appropriate communication skills.

Cognitive versus behavioral. Cognitive

conceptualizations of communication competence conceive of

competence as "a mental phenomenon distinct and separate

from behavior" (Wiemann & Backlund, 1980, p. 187). The

cognitive perspective mirrors Chomsky's (1965) notion of

linguistic competence as knowledge of language and its

distinction from performance of language within a speech

community. This approach to communication competence seeks

to discover the cognitive structures that underlie

communication events, but is not concerned with the event

per se'. Wiemann and Backlund explain that the goal of the

cognitive perspective is "to develop a set of formalized

rules that would act as a generative source for specific

communication events" (p. 187).

Behavioral conceptualizations of communication

competence focus on actual communication behavior. When

defined in terms of "fitness or ability" ( Wiemann &

Backlund, 1980, p. 187), "competence" clearly implies

behavior. Scholars who speak of communication competence in

terms such as "adaptability," "demonstrate knowledge," or

"ability" are suggesting that communication competence

extends beyond the cognitive and includes behavior as well

(e.g., Duran, 1983; Larson et al., 1978; Wiemann, 1977).

Thus, behavioral approaches acknowledge a cognitive

dimension of communication competence (knowledge) but

consider overt demonstration (performance) a necessary

component of competence. Consequently, Wiemann and Backlund

(1980) and Wiemann and Bradac (1989) argue for the inclusion

of both cognitive and behavioral processes in any

conceptualization of communication competence.

These four dichotomies are not mutually exclusive. In

fact, to refer to these attempts to conceptualize

communication competence as "dichotomies" is misleading.

"Dichotomy" implies that to include one end of a spectrum is

to exclude the other end. However, insufficient evidence

exists to exclude any position from consideration. For

instance, molecular and molar approaches certainly are

concerned with behavior and cognition. Likewise, state and

trait concerns overlap those of behavior, cognition,

molecular and molar approaches. And, neither outcome nor

message focuses can be considered seriously without

addressing issues involved in state, behavior, molecular,

and molar approaches as well. Consequently, defining

communication competence remains a difficult problem.

Therefore, each researcher must choose for him or herself

the positions) he or she will take, recognizing that the

choice is based on personal preference rather than existing


In the present study, communication competence is

conceptualized as "a person's ability to interact flexibly

with others in a dyadic setting so that the communication is

seen as appropriate and effective for the context" (Rubin,

Martin, Bruning, & Powers, 1993, p. 210). This definition

has been selected because it addresses state more strongly

than trait and more behavioral than cognitive properties of

communication. In short, this conceptualization of

communication competence focuses on what is happening in a

specific interaction. Furthermore, it explicitly includes

aspects of appropriateness and effectiveness. Despite the

lack of agreement on a single definition for communication

competence, most authorities in the area of communication

competence do agree on some basic underlying assumptions.

Basic Assumptions of Communication Competence

Assumptions underlying the conceptualization of

communication competence have implications for both theory

and measurement. Based on a review of the literature, five

primary assumptions of communication competence were

identified. First is the assumption that interaction

includes an evaluation of the communicators. Second, in

order to be judged communicatively competent, communicators

must be effective (i.e., achieve a desired goal). Third,

the communication must be appropriate to the context and

relationship (i.e., not violate social norms). Next, the

competent communicator must be adaptable. Lastly,

communication competence is context specific.

Interaction with evaluation. At a minimum,

communication competence requires dyadic interaction

(Wiemann, 1977). In the context of that interaction,

communicators evaluate one's own and the other's competence

(Bochner & Kelly, 1974; Spitzberg & Cupach, 1984). As

Roloff and Kellermann (1984) explain, a person may possess

skills or traits that facilitate competence, but he or she

is not competent until judged so by either self, another

interactant, or a third party. Roloff and Kellermann "argue

that competence is inherently an evaluative judgment of a

person's behavior rather than a skill or trait possessed by

an individual" (p. 175).

Effectiveness and goal attainment. Wiemann (1977)

argues that most schools of thought on communication

competence characterize competence in terms of

effectiveness. That is, competent communication, by

definition, facilitates the accomplishment of goals within

an encounter. Thus, interactional control is central to

effectiveness (i.e., goal attainment). According to Parks

(1985), control over one's environment in order to attain

goals is at the core of almost all conceptualizations of

communication competence.

Most scholars agree that effectiveness (goal

attainment) is necessary, but is not sufficient for

communication competence. The demonstration of

communication competence requires communicators to manage

some degree of goal attainment, but the goals must be

attained appropriately (Spitzberg, 1983; Wiemann, 1977).

Appropriateness and mutual satisfaction. Communication

that is appropriate avoids violation of situational (Canary

& Spitzberg, 1987; Larson et al., 1978) and relational

standards (Canary & Cupach, 1988). Criteria for

"appropriateness" are established by explicit and implicit

cultural norms (Wiemann & Backlund, 1980). Because

evaluations of appropriateness are based on normative

behavior, self, other, and third party observers expect

communicators to behave appropriately. Failure to adhere to

normative expectations can result in negative evaluations

and sanctions for the inappropriate communicator.

Whether goals are achieved or not, one anticipated end

result of interaction is continued mutual satisfaction with

the relationship. Even if interactants disagree, those who

do so with a sufficient level of communication competence

generally will find that no permanent harm is done to the

relationship (Spitzberg, 1983; Spitzberg & Hecht, 1984).

Another aspect of appropriateness is congruency.

Within the context of an interaction, communicators should

"make sense." That is, interactants should display


consistency between topics, meet informational requirements,

and structure their communication style to the situation and

particular relationship at hand (Larson et al., 1978;

Wiemann & Backlund, 1980). Consequently, self, other, or a

third party observer would expect communicators to exhibit

appropriate normative behavior in verbal content and style

as they engage in communicative interactions. Failure to do

so could result in misunderstandings, confusion, and

potential relational damage. Normative behaviors may vary

by situation. Therefore, adaptability is an important

aspect of communication competence.

Adaptability. In order to be judged competent,

communicators must be able to adapt their messages and their

behaviors to varied situations (Bochner & Kelly, 1974;

Duran, 1983; Spitzberg & Cupach, 1984). Goals change in an

ongoing way throughout an interaction (Diez, 1984), making

adaptation to the given context a necessity (Spitzberg &

Brunner, 1991). The premise of adaptability suggests that

both interactants monitor the effectiveness and

appropriateness of self and other as the interaction

unfolds. Spitzberg and Cupach (1984) suggest that

effectiveness and appropriateness can be independent of each

other. However, in most instances they are correlated as

interactants adapt to the conditions of the particular

interaction in order to achieve changing goals.


Context specific. Spitzberg and Brunner (1991) contend

that most competence theorists consider it axiomatic that

competence is contingent upon the context in which the

communication is judged. Evaluations of communication are

tied closely to normative expectations which vary from one

environment to another and from one relationship to another.

For example, communication behaviors that are appropriate

for the pool room may not be appropriate for the board room.

And communication behaviors that are appropriate with a

superior may not be appropriate with a best friend.

Therefore, behavior seen as competent in one context may not

be evaluated as competent in another context (Larson et al.,


Although communication competence has been

conceptualized a number of ways depending on the focus of

the individual researcher (e.g., interpersonal competence or

social skills), two dimensions recur across these

conceptualizations: Appropriateness and effectiveness. The

recurrence of appropriateness and effectiveness in the

underlying assumptions about communication competence across

pedagogical, interpersonal, social skills, and other areas

of study, has lead some scholars (e. g., Bochner & Kelly,

1974; Canary & Spitzberg, 1987; Cupach & Spitzberg, 1983;

Wiemann, 1977) to conclude that appropriateness and

effectiveness are fundamental properties of communication


In summary, at a minimum, communication competence

requires dyadic interaction in which participants attempt to

achieve personal goals. Goals must be achieved

appropriately so that no harm is done to the relationship.

Furthermore, interactants must be able to adapt to

circumstances as contexts change. An especially important

context in which evaluation, goal achievement,

appropriateness, and adaptability are essential is task-

related dyadic interaction. Communication competence in

task-related interactions can have long-term consequences

for social and occupational success.

Communication Competence in Task-Related Contexts

Spitzberg and Brunner (1989) indicate that

communication competence has been implicated in occupational

success. As they explain, "people who consistently are more

competent in interaction stand to receive greater social

rewards from their interaction experiences than those who

are inappropriate and ineffective" (p. 122). Thus,

understanding variables (e.g., gender) that influence

evaluations of communication competence in task-related

contexts is important.

Reiser and Troost (1986) investigated the influence of

sex and gender-role identity on evaluations of communication

competence in a task setting. Respondents worked together

for 15 weeks, after which they evaluated themselves and

other group members on three dimensions of Wiemann's (1977)

Communicative Competence Scale (empathy, behavioral

flexibility, and affiliation/support). Respondents also

completed the Bem Sex Role Inventory, a questionnaire

containing measures of psychological gender-role identity

(feminine, masculine, androgynous, or undifferentiated).

Gender-role identity did not predict perceptions of the

communication competence of females, but did for males.

For males, ratings of communication competence differed

by gender-role type. Feminine males were rated most

communicatively competent and androgynous males were rated

least competent by others. The reverse pattern occurred

when males evaluated themselves. Females, regardless of

gender-role identity, were judged high on communication

competence by both self and others. The authors suggest

that femininity is associated with empathy, affiliation, and

support. Thus, females, regardless of their psychological

gender-role identity, and feminine males might be expected

to demonstrate these qualities to a greater degree than

masculine males. The contradiction between self- and other-

ratings for males indicates that men's perceptions of their

communication behaviors are not congruent with how others

see them. Reiser and Troost (1986) suggest that the ways

men and women demonstrate appropriateness and effectiveness

in a task-related context results in differential

evaluations of communication competence.


Smith and DeWine (1991) examined superiors' perceptions

of subordinates asking for help. They hypothesized that

superiors attribute an employee's effectiveness to

communication competence. Respondents in the study viewed

two videotapes. One tape presented a male employee asking a

supervisor for help with a work-related problem and the

second tape presented a female employee demonstrating the

same request. Respondents assumed the role of supervisor

and after viewing the tapes completed a questionnaire

designed to report perceptions of the communicative

competence of the employee. There were no significant

differences in perceptions of communication competence based

on sex of the superior (respondent). However, differences

did appear based on sex of employee. Female subordinates

who asked for help were rated higher in communication

competence than male subordinates by both male and female

respondents. The authors suggest that the differences found

are due to the stereotype that it is more permissible for

females than males to seek help. This study provides

evidence that men and women performing the same

communication behavior are likely to be evaluated

differently in terms of communication competence.

The two investigations discussed above indicate that

when males and females perform the same or similar behavior

in task-related situations, they receive different

evaluations of communication competence. As more women


enter college and the work force, incidence for evaluations

and comparisons of men's and women's communication

competence in task-related contexts will increase. One

task-related context in which evaluations of "competence"

are particularly significant is the employment interview.

The Nature of Employment Interviews

The employment interview often involves initial

interaction (Baron, 1986; Goodall & Goodall, 1982). Stewart

and Cash (1988) describe the interview as "a process of

dyadic, relational communication" (p. 3) in which the

participants interact with a predetermined goal.

Researchers have identified a number of variables that

influence the outcome of employment interviews. (For

reviews see Arvey & Campion, 1982; Schmitt, 1976; Street,

1986.) For example, investigations have focused on

nonverbal behaviors (e.g., gaze, attractiveness), language

style (e.g., dysfluencies, accents), and, to a lesser

extent, on content of an applicant's communication (e.g.,

questions, unfavorable information). Hollandsworth et al.

(1979) conclude that nonverbal communication is important,

but suggest that "what to say" (p. 364) appears to be more

crucial. When content has been examined, researchers have

found appropriateness of content to be a significant factor

in determining success of the interview (Hollandsworth et

al., 1979).

Interviewers anticipate and desire positive self-

statements from job applicants (Clowers & Fraser, 1977;

Gilmore & Ferris, 1989; Keil & Barbee, 1973) as well as

specific information relating to technical expertise (Hunt &

Eadie, 1987; Shaw, 1983). As Gilmore and Ferris (1989)

explain, "the employment interview encourages opportunistic

behavior by job applicants if they are at all interested in

the job in question" (p. 197). Shaw (1983) contends that

applicants expect opportunities in the interview to reveal

aspects of their background and competence. And, in fact,

Einhorn (1981) found that successful job applicants revealed

more about themselves and their specific abilities and

experience than did unsuccessful job applicants. Thus, it

seems important that job applicants convey images of

themselves as competent and thoroughly qualified


As is typical of other initial interactions,

interviewers often have little information about an

applicant prior to the interaction (Hunt & Eadie, 1987) and

thus rely on general impressions and behaviors exhibited

during the interview as a basis for employment decisions.

Posner (1981) found that the majority of employment

recruiters have no formal training in interviewing and fail

to establish specific goals and objectives by which an

applicant will be judged. Consequently, applicants often

are judged according to the personal attitudes and values of

the interviewer rather than specific job-related skills

(Austin & Vines, 1980; Tschirgi, 1973). In addition,

interviewers often have their own personal stereotypes of

what constitutes a "good" employee and about how this

perceived "good" employee should behave in an interview

(Schmitt, 1976). Thus, gender role may become either more

or less salient based on the prototype of the "ideal" job


Such a situation can be extremely disadvantageous for

female applicants competing against male applicants. Women

often are at a disadvantage in hiring decisions (Arvey,

1979; Cann, Siegfried, & Pearce, 1981; Dipboye, Arvey, &

Terpstra, 1977) because of perceived incongruity between

feminine skills and masculine job requirements (Cohen &

Bunker, 1975). Thus, as Arvey and Campion (1982) explain,

knowing the gender of an applicant may affect "expectations,

stereotypes, and behaviors of an interviewer which in turn

may affect the interview outcome" (p. 282). According to

West and Zimmerman (1987), even in formal interactions such

as an employment interview, individuals are subject to

evaluation in terms of appropriate behavior for their


Given that the outcome of an employment interview often

can have important consequences, such as being hired,

applicants must be able to present themselves in the most

positive light possible. However, presentation of expertise


can place the applicant in a dilemma. With low status as a

communicator in the interview context, the applicant is

advised to speak assertively at the same time he or she is

being judged by an interviewer who may find such

assertiveness to be presumptuous or arrogant (Ragan, 1983).

For women, who face potential bias in the selection process

based on gender, presentation of expertise and experience

may be particularly problematic. A woman may likely be

"dammed if she does and dammed if she doesn't."

Bragging is one means by which a job applicant can

reveal his or her expertise and experience which, according

to Einhorn (1981), is necessary to success. As the job

market tightens, with more competition for jobs, one tactic

used by applicants to "get the edge" is to project

competence and expertise (Baron, 1986, p. 16). Although

bragging does not enjoy widespread social acceptance, it may

be one way to project competence and expertise and thereby

gain an advantage in the job market.

The Nature of Bragging

Frequently individuals reveal information about

themselves in order to achieve some goal (e.g., make a good

impression) (Miller et al., 1992). However, Miller et al.

conclude that it is not at all clear how what we say affects

other's impressions of us. According to Goffman (1959),

people are more concerned about impressing high status

people than low status people. Thus, self-enhancing or

boastful statements are more likely in the presence of high-

status persons (Gardner & Martinko, 1988). For example, the

employment interview is inherently hierarchial, and the

lower status applicant seeking to favorably impress the

higher status interviewer is likely to make self-enhancing


Vallacher, Wegner, and Frederick (1987) describe

boastful individuals as "people who emphasize their

accomplishment and general effectiveness" (p. 301). Cooke

and Miller (cited in Miller et al., 1992) distinguish

boasting or bragging from simply "telling about your

accomplishments." Specifically, bragging, as opposed to

positive self description, (1) contains more superlatives

such as "best," (2) contains references to doing better than

another or having power over others, (3) demonstrates less

surprise at success, (4) has less emphasis on hard work and

more emphasis on being a "wonderful" person, (5) presents

less emphasis on helping the group, and (6) indicates more

sense of deserving one's successful outcome. According to

Miller et al., individuals distinguish between communication

that is boastful and that which is simply positive self-

description. Any use of the six characteristics identified

by Cook and Miller, and later confirmed by Miller et al., is

characterized as boasting or bragging. However, as the

number of bragging characteristics displayed increases,

ratings of likability decreases.

According to Schlenker and Leary (1982), people are

willing to boast and are more likely to be self-enhancing

when they believe the audience does not have knowledge of

their successes. In addition, Vallacher et al. (1987)

suggest that self-description is highly likely in settings

involving appraisal from others. Consequently, a job

applicant engaging in an initial interaction with an

interviewer is likely to provide self-enhancing information.

Tedeschi and Melburg (1984) indicate that self-enhancing

statements are intended to persuade the target of the

speaker's positive qualities and "this tactic is an integral

part of any formal interviewing session" (p. 38).

When looked at together, gender, communication

competence, employment interviews, and bragging form a

complex relationship. Gender appears to be an important

variable in interview outcomes, evaluations of bragging, and

evaluations of communication competence. The sections that

follow examine the relationships between communication

competence and gender, employment interviews, and bragging.

Communication Competence and Gender

Duran (1989) characterizes research concerning gender

differences and communication competence as "disjointed and

theoretical" (p. 216). In most studies of gender and

communication competence, gender is not the focus of the

research, but rather constitutes only one of several

variables being considered. Thus, gender differences in

evaluations of communication competence are ignored in most

cases and reported in passing in others. When gender is

considered in investigations of communication competence,

differences often are found. The lack of attention given to

gender in the development of a theory of communication

competence is unfortunate. The literature concerned with

gender studies suggests obvious differences in the way men

and women perform communication behaviors and in the way men

and women exhibiting the same communication behaviors are


Gender Differences in Communication

Most "sex differences" between women and men are based

on stereotypes rather than biology. In other words, there

is little physiological basis for the perceived

"differences." Therefore, stereotypes of the passive,

compliant, dependent, attentive woman and the aggressive,

analytic, independent, active man continue to influence

communication behaviors and expectations of behaviors.

Spitzack and Carter (1987) contend that the most

pervasive area of research on sex differences and

communication is language behavior analyses and that studies

tend to focus on one of three areas: (1) sex differences in

phonology, pitch, intonation, lexicon, and meaning, (2) the

relation between perception and role expectation and the

extent to which language behavior (e.g., profanity or

shouting) is perceived as masculine or feminine, and (3)

issues of communication competence with a focus on gender

differences in language use (e.g., tag questions and


Research has revealed significant sex differences in

each of these three areas. For example, certain

communication behaviors, such as the use of nonstandard

English and profanity, are perceived to be more closely

associated with masculinity than femininity. According to

Deuchar (1989), women tend to produce speech closer to the

standard in pronunciation than do men. Trudgill (1975)

suggests that men value nonstandard speech and associate it

with masculinity. Likewise, men are more likely to use

profanity than women (Key, 1975; Lakoff, 1975) and de Klerk

(1991) contends that expletives frequently serve to

distinguish men from women.

In contrast to different language use perpetuating

different evaluations of communication competence, identical

language use can also result in different evaluations for

men and women. According to Spitzack and Carter (1987),

Identical communication behaviors, such as the use of
tag questions, often lead to different competence
evaluations depending on speaker sex. For example,
when a woman says, "It's a nice day, isn't it?" she is
thought to lack authority, thereby reducing her
competence; when a man makes the same utterance, he is
perceived as an open and congenial conversation
partner, thus elevating his level of competence. (p.

If interactants base their evaluations of one another's

communication competence on adherence to gender-role

expectations, then the degree of adherence to those gender

roles has implications for evaluations of communication

competence. As noted above, what is appropriate

communication behavior for a man not be evaluated as

appropriate for a woman (e.g., profanity, shouting, or

bragging). Likewise, behaviors that influence

effectiveness, such as directness and instrumentality, are

more strongly associated with masculine behavior than with

feminine behavior. Therefore, what men and women choose to

do to affect goal achievement might, or sometimes must, be

different. Thus, a closer look at the influence of gender

on evaluations of effective and appropriate communication

behavior seems in order.

Gender Differences in Evaluations

The success of any attempt to study or teach

communication competence is contingent upon understanding

what influences interactants' evaluations of each other.

Extant theory and research related to gender point to the

fact that men and women performing the same behavior often

are evaluated differently. Research in areas such as

competence and attribution theory provide ample evidence of

differential evaluations of men and women. These

differences suggest likely differences in evaluations of men

and women in task-related environments.

Competence. Investigations of "competence" often are

not examinations of communication competence per se.

Rather, many published articles relating to "competence"

appear to be investigations of some level of professional

competence or general ability in a task-related context.

Nevertheless, communication competence often is implied in

these studies (e.g., Bradley, 1980).

A number of studies provide examples of the ubiquitous

use of the term "competence" without offering a clear

explanation of what the concept entails. For example, Lewis

and Bierly (1990) investigated how men and women differ in

their evaluations of the attractiveness and "competence" of

female and male political candidates. Although respondents

rated candidates on "competence," what the term means in

this instance is not clear.

In an investigation of job related "competence," Lott

(1985) sought to identify conditions under which "competent"

women were more likely to be negatively evaluated than

comparable men. However, the qualities or behaviors which

constitute a "competent" woman or man were not stated

clearly. Quina et al. (1987) used categories of language

style from Lakoff (1975) to investigate "stereotypic gender

characteristics, competence, personality, assertiveness" (p.

113). They found that greater "competence," but less social

warmth, was attributed to masculine speech patterns than to

feminine speech patterns. Unfortunately, once again, the

authors did not clarify the concept of "competence."

Wallston and O'Leary (1981) contend that the behavioral

similarities between men and women are greater than the

differences. Despite evidence that supports their claim,

"the belief in sex differences persists" (p. 10).

Therefore, individuals tend to apply different

interpretations to the same behavior. Although, as Wallston

and O'Leary point out, research focused on differential

evaluations of men and women typically is based on

stereotypes, the perception of difference ultimately

influences the evaluation of behaviors and the individuals

performing those behaviors.

Attribution theory. People have a need to understand

events and behaviors and consequently, tend to generate "lay

theories" to explain them. According to Wallston and

O'Leary (1982), these "lay theories" may explain the

persistence of beliefs in sex differences. Work grounded in

attribution theory provides evidence that perceivers often

have different causal explanations for the same behaviors of

women and men and that

explanations offered for the success or failure of
women and men differ markedly .. A man's
successful performance on a task is generally
attributed to skill, whereas a woman's identical
performance is attributed to effort or luck. On the
other hand, men's failure is attributed to (bad) luck,
women's to (low) ability. (p. 24)

The tendency to view men's success on a task as the result

of ability and women's equal success on the same task as the

result of luck is most consistent when the task is one in

which men are expected to excel. For example, Deaux and


Emswiller (1974) found that both male and female respondents

attributed successful performance by a man on a "male-

oriented" task (i.e, a task such as mechanical repair that

is culturally sex-linked) to skill, while the same

performance by a woman was attributed to luck. Cash, Kehr,

Polyson, and Freeman (1977) found that both men and women

were more likely to attribute men's failure on a masculine

task to bad luck than women's failure on a feminine task.

Women's failure on a feminine task was more likely to be

attributed to task difficulty than bad luck.

Research based in attribution theory indicates that

when men and women exhibit similar behaviors, the

explanations of those behaviors are likely to be different.

Consequently, women who are communicatively competent in a

task-related context may be perceived as "lucky," while men

who perform similarly may be perceived as "skilled" in

communication. The implication is that "luck" is a

situational occurrence for a woman, but "skill" is

dispositional for a man. Deaux and Emswiller (1974) caution

that if similar evaluations occur outside the experimental

context, the potential for discrimination against women (or

groups for whom expectations are low) may be "less easily

eliminated by objective evidence of a good performance" (p.


In summary, evaluations of competence and attributions

of success or failure on tasks appear to be influenced by

expectations of stereotypic male and female behavior. If,

as extant literature suggests, similar behaviors are

evaluated differently for men and women, then what counts as

communication competence for men and women may differ as

well. Different evaluations of communication competence can

be particularly significant in the work place because, as

Spitzberg and Brunner (1989) have suggested, communication

competence has implications for occupational success.

Evaluations of communication competence are influenced

by a number of variables such as the specific communication

behavior demonstrated, gender of communicator, and context.

An axiom of communication competence is that evaluations of

communication competence are context specific. That is,

which communication behaviors are effective and appropriate

depend upon conditions such as the relationship of the

interactants, the physical setting, the events unfolding,

etc. Contexts may be either social or task-related. One

important task-related environment is the employment


Communication Competence and Employment Interviews

The employment interview presents a particularly

consequential instance of task related interpersonal

communication in which to consider evaluations of

communication competence. For persons seeking employment,

being effective and appropriate (i.e., communicatively

competent) in the employment interview is vital. By

definition, employment interviews are goal-oriented

interactions (Stewart & Cash, 1988). The interviewer and

the applicant seek information from and provide information

to the other. The applicant seeks to gain information about

the interviewer, job, and organization in an effort to make

both a positive impression and an informed decision.

Likewise, the interviewer provides information about the job

and organization, attempts to make a favorable impression on

the applicant, and seeks information about the applicant

which will assist in making a decision to hire.

Appropriateness of verbal content (Hollandsworth et

al., 1979) and nonverbal behavior (Linden & Parsons, 1989)

have been identified as important variables in determining

an applicant's success in an interview. However,

Hollandsworth et al. (1979) and Linden and Parsons (1989)

suggest that appropriateness of verbal content (i.e., the

kind of information presented) is more salient to a

successful outcome than appropriateness of nonverbal

behaviors. Thus, evaluations of communication competence

are inherent in the employment interview. Furthermore,

actual decisions regarding job offers may be based on

evaluations of communication competence, especially as

employers increasingly identify communication skills as a

priority in hiring (Goodall & Goodall, 1982).

If men and women are evaluated differently by both

men and women, evaluations of applicant communication


competence could provide one explanation for the consistent

findings of male applicants being preferred over female

applicants (Arvey, 1979; Dipboye et al., 1977). Men and

women may need to exhibit different, rather than similar,

communicative behaviors in the employment interview in order

to gain positive evaluations. That is, communication

behaviors that are congruent with one's gender role may have

more affect on evaluations of communication competence than

the amount of information revealed. Presenting a positive

self-image may involve communicating in a manner consistent

with expectations associated with gender stereotypes.

Gender stereotypes of the "instrumental male" and

"expressive female" indicate that men are expected to be

assertive during an employment interview. Assertiveness is

considered normative communication behavior for a male

applicant and probably goes unnoticed unless he moves beyond

the bounds of propriety. In contrast, assertiveness is not

congruent with the "expressive female" stereotype. Thus,

the stereotypic "instrumental male" may be granted greater

latitude in the kind of information provided in the

employment interview than the "expressive female."

Cecil, Paul, and Olins (1973) examined qualities

perceived to be important for male and female applicants for

the same job. Their findings indicated that the kinds of

standards and criteria used to evaluate job applicants

differs for male and female applicants. Arvey (1979; Arvey

& Campion, 1982) suggests that stereotypes may shape the

expectations that interviewers have of applicants during an

interview. "It may be that an interviewer, after learning

that the person to be interviewed next is female, evaluates

the candidate on a different set of criteria than used

for evaluating a male candidate" (Arvey, 1979, p. 744).

Thus, job offers may be based on how well stereotypic gender

characteristics match the qualities thought to be necessary

for the particular job (Arvey, 1979).

Job applicants have at their disposal a number of ways

to influence evaluations of communication competence.

However, achieving effectiveness and appropriateness may be

different for men and women. Men are encouraged and

expected to be competitive. Therefore, being braggadocios

may be perceived as acceptable behavior for the competitive

man. Furthermore, the extra information provided by

bragging may insure a competitive edge over other

applicants. As Einhorn (1981) suggests, the extent to which

applicants exploit their potential coincides almost

completely with the outcome of the interviews. In contrast,

women are not expected to be competitive and bragging is not

a behavior associated with noncompetitiveness.

Consequently, men may enjoy an advantage not readily

available to women in that men can "exploit their potential"

as candidates for employment through bragging.

In contrast, women may jeopardize their communication

effectiveness and appropriateness by bragging. Rather than

brag about their achievements, women are encouraged to be

"other" focused. Thus, the female applicant may be

ineffective because she does not reveal enough information

about her achievements and qualifications, thereby

supporting the stereotype of women being less qualified than

men. On the other hand, if the female applicant does brag

about her accomplishments, she may still be evaluated

negatively because her communication is incongruent with her

gender role.

Communication Competence and Bragging

Bragging is assumed to be socially undesirable in

general (Miller et al., 1992). Therefore, one would not

expect bragging behavior to be conducive to positive

evaluations of communication competence. However, research

indicates that bragging might actually contribute to

positive evaluations of effectiveness and competence in

social contexts.

Miller et al. (1992) had subjects read stories

involving positive self-disclosure, negative self-

disclosure, and bragging. Subjects then rated the

disclosures on dimensions of competency, social sensitivity,

and likability. Although the boastful speaker was perceived

to be less socially sensitive than either the positive or

negative self-discloser, there was no difference in

perceptions of the boastful speaker and the positive self-

discloser in the extent to which they were perceived as

competent. Similarly, Schlenker and Leary (1982) compared

boastful and modest communicators. Subjects read stories

containing communicators' prediction of a future performance

and explanation of a past performance on an exam. Schlenker

and Leary found that self-enhancing speakers made a more

favorable overall impression and were rated as more

competent and sincere when the audience did not know the

speaker's actual performance on the exam.

Because boasts contain instrumental and competitive

communication behaviors typically associated with males,

Miller et al. (1992) extended their investigation of

bragging to include sex of target and sex of rater.

Findings indicated that females demonstrating positive self-

disclosure were viewed more favorably than were males.

However, females demonstrating boastful behaviors were

viewed less positively than were boastful males. In

addition, females were rated as more boastful than boastful

males even though both exhibited the same boasting behavior.

Those who boasted were perceived to be more competent and

less feminine than positive self-disclosers by both male and

female subjects. Miller et al. suggest that stereotypes

about males and females may influence ratings of

boastfulness and positive self-disclosure. Particularly,

men stereotypically are less self-disclosive than are women.

That is, stereotypically, men are less likely to share

personal ideas and feelings that are unknown to another

person. Thus, men are likely to be evaluated less favorably

when they self-disclose. On the other hand, men are likely

to be considered more competent than women (Lott, 1985).

Thus, men who brag are likely to be evaluated more favorably

than women who brag.

Bragging conceivably contributes to positive

evaluations of communication competence. Whether or not it

does apparently depends on variables such as the level of

bragging and gender of the braggart. Whether bragging is

beneficial or adverse appears to depend on the goal of the

communicator (Miller et al., 1992; Schlenker & Leary, 1982).

If the goal is to be perceived as successful, boasting

appears to be a potentially useful strategy, especially for

men (Miller et al., 1992). However, boasting results in

unfavorable evaluations for women. If the goal is to be

likeable, an approach such as positive self-disclosure

appears to be more fitting than bragging (Schlenker & Leary,

1982). However, positive self-disclosure results in less

favorable evaluations for men. The dilemma for a job

applicant is that he or she needs to appear to be both

successful and likeable.


A number of perspectives purport to explain the nature

of gender differences in social behavior. The physiological


perspective suggests that gender differences are the result

of biologically inherent variables. The cultural or

socialization perspective contends that boys and girls grow

up in segregated subcultures in which they learn different

ways of communicating. The gender-role perspective takes a

structural approach, suggesting that gender differences are

the result of different behaviors associated with one's

position in a hierarchy, and is the perspective taken in

this investigation.

Many observations of "sex differences" are based on sex

stereotypes, which influence evaluations of men and women.

Specifically, men are perceived as more competent than women

when both perform the same task. In addition, men who

succeed on a male-oriented task are judged to be skillful,

while women who succeed on the same task are judged to be

lucky. These divergent evaluations have implications for

perceptions of the communication behaviors of men and women

in task-related settings.

Communication skills have been identified as a priority

in hiring decisions. In addition, communication competence

has been implicated in the maintenance of occupational

success once employed. Thus, communication competence can

have consequences for one's economic status. However, if

men and women performing the same behavior are evaluated

differently, then what counts as communicatively competent

behavior likely is not the same for men and women. For

example, men who brag are rated higher in competence than

are women who perform the same bragging behavior. And,

women who self-disclose are rated higher in likability than

men who exhibit the same self-disclosure. Consequently,

even though communication behavior is important in hiring

decisions, men and women may need to demonstrate different

behaviors in order to receive a favorable evaluation.

One of the things that applicants do in an employment

interview is provide information about themselves to the

interviewer. This information is intended to convince the

interviewer that the applicant is the "best" person for the

job. It is a situation in which an applicant should, and is

expected to, reveal achievements, expertise, etc. Some

bragging may be condoned in order to emphasize the

significance of these achievements and expertise. Evidence

is not available regarding how men and women who brag in an

employment interview might be evaluated. Thus, the

following research questions and hypotheses were posed:

HI: Evaluations of the communication competence of

male and female applicants differ.

Rl: Do evaluations of the communication competence of

applicants differ on the basis of sex of

respondent, level of bragging, and/or the

interaction of these variables with each other

and/or with sex of applicant?

H2: Evaluations of the communication effectiveness of

male and female applicants differ.

R2: Do evaluations of the communication effectiveness

of applicants differ on the basis of sex of

respondent, level of bragging, and/or the

interaction of these variables with each other

and/or with sex of applicant?

H3: Evaluations of the communication appropriateness

of male and female applicants differ.

R3: Do evaluations of the communication

appropriateness of applicants differ on the basis

of sex of respondent, level of bragging, and/or

the interaction of these variables with each other

and/or with sex of applicant?

H4: Evaluations of communication competence differ by

level of bragging.

R4: Does probability of hiring differ on the basis of

sex of respondent, sex of applicant, level of

bragging and/or the interaction of these variables

with each other?

R5: What are the relationships between probability of

hiring and (a) communication competence, (b)

communication effectiveness, and (c) communication


R6: What are the relationships among (a) communication

competence, (b) communication effectiveness, (c)


communication appropriateness and (d) 10

characteristics of the successful job applicant?


The present investigation examined the influence of

gender on evaluations of communication competence in a task-

related context. Specifically, the study examined the

effects of the sex of respondent, sex of applicant, and

level of bragging on respondents' evaluations of applicants'

communication competence in the context of an initial

employment interview.


A 2 x 2 x 3 factorial design was used in the study.

The independent variables were sex of respondent, sex of

applicant, and three ordinal levels of bragging. Three

prepared scenarios, with verbatim transcripts, representing

"High" (HLB), "Moderate" (MLB) or "Low" (LLB) levels of

bragging, each attributed to either a male or female job

applicant, were treatment stimuli. The six scenarios (sex

of applicant x level of bragging) were organized according

to a random sequence prior to distribution to respondents.

Subjects were assigned randomly to treatment groups. Each

respondent received one interviewing scenario.

The internal validity of the experiment met criteria

established by Campbell and Stanley (1963). Subjects were

not pretested. Thus, testing, history, maturation, and

mortality effects did not confound the treatment. The

selection of subjects was not based on extreme scores on any

criterion measurement; therefore, statistical regression did

not influence the results. Intra-session history and

instrumentation were controlled by (a) administering all

instructions, stimuli, and measurements to all subjects in

written form, (b) administering all procedures during one

class period, and (c) having all procedures administered by

the same research confederate. As a result of these

controls, the outcomes of this experiment should be

attributable only to the experimental treatments.

Pilot Study
A pilot study was conducted in order to test the

reliability of the communication competence scale to be used

in the larger study and to determine if "high" and "low"

levels of bragging would be perceived differently. A 2 x 2

factorial design, was used in the pilot study in which

subjects read one of two verbatim transcripts developed for

this study. The transcripts represented either "high" or

"low" bragging and each was attributed to either a male or

female job applicant. "High" bragging scenarios included

six characteristics of bragging as identified by Miller et

al. (1992). "Low" bragging did not include any of these

characteristics. After reading the scenario, each subject


responded to the same initial communication competence scale

intended for the larger study.

A manipulation check was included in the questionnaire

to determine if the two levels of bragging, as

differentiated in prior research (e.g., Miller et al.,

1992), and as manipulated in the pilot study, actually were

perceived differently. These perceptions were measured via

a single question that read: "Steve (Susan) seemed to brag

too much." Responses ranged from "0" ("Do not agree at

all") to "10" ("Completely Agree").

Reliabilities for communication competence,

effectiveness, and appropriateness were checked by computing

Cronbach's alpha on the components of the total scale and

separately for (a) items intended to measure communication

effectiveness and (b) items intended to measure

communication appropriateness. Respondents were 34

undergraduates enrolled in an Introduction to Public

Speaking class who received class credit for their


Results indicated that Cronbach's coefficient alpha was

.95 for the complete communication competence scale, .93 for

the appropriateness items, and .88 for the effectiveness

items. A two-factor ANOVA revealed a main effect for level

of bragging (F = 5.92, df = 1,28, R< .02), but not for sex

of applicant. There was not a statistically significant

interaction effect. A follow-up t-test revealed that "high"

bragging resulted in lower evaluations of communication

competence (M = 6.27) than "low" bragging (M = 9.59). The

difference was statistically significant (t = -2.19, df =

15.27, R < .04). In addition, results of a t-test indicated

that respondents did discriminate between the two levels of

bragging. The difference between the mean for "high"

bragging (M = 9.38) and "low" bragging (M = 1.92) was

statistically significant (t = 8.76, df = 14.41, p< .001).

Based on the results of the pilot study, two changes

were made prior to conducting the larger study. First,

because the difference between "low" and "high" levels of

bragging was great (2< .001), it was felt that the "high"

condition may be so offensive that persons performing this

level of bragging, regardless of sex, would be evaluated

less favorably than those in the "low" condition. Thus, a

third and moderate level of bragging was included in the

final investigation. Second, wording in the scenarios and

test instrument was changed slightly in an attempt to make

sex-of-applicant more salient. Work by Miller et al. (1992)

suggests that men and women who brag equally are evaluated

differently. However, no difference was found in the pilot

study. One possible explanation is that gender of the

applicant was not made salient in the scenarios and test

instrument. Thus, items in the communication competence

scale such as "It was a rewarding conversation" were changed

to read "It was a rewarding conversation for Steve (Susan)."

In addition, phrases such as "Steve (Susan) paused briefly"

were added to the scenarios.

Operational Definitions

Independent Variables

Sex of respondent. Respondents indicated their

biological sex on the questionnaire.

Sex of applicant. Although last names of the

applicants was consistent across conditions, the sex of

applicant was established by manipulating first names and

incorporating the pronouns "she" or "he" and "his" or "her"

in the job interview scenarios. Female applicants were

identified as Susan Carson. Male applicants were identified

as Steve Carson. All other elements of the treatments were


Bragqing. Three employment interview scenarios

provided the basis for varying the level of bragging.

"High" (HLB), "Moderate" (MLB), and "Low" (LLB) levels of

bragging were used. Based on the work of Cooke and Miller

(cited in Miller et al., 1992) and confirmed by Miller et

al. (1992), bragging (as opposed to positive self-

disclosure) was characterized by (a) use of superlatives

(e.g., "best" versus "good"), (b) references to performing

better than one's peers on tasks, (c) less surprise at being

rewarded versus being honored or grateful, (d) less emphasis

on hard work and more emphasis on being a "wonderful"

person, (e) less emphasis on helping the group (e.g., more

references to "I" than "we"), or (f) a sense of deserving

one's reward. In this study, HLB included at least one

instance of each of the bragging characteristics outlined by

Miller et al. MLB bragging included at least one instance

of three of the characteristics of bragging. Specifically,

(a) use of superlatives, (b) references to performing better

than one's peers on tasks, and (c) a sense of deserving

one's reward. These three characteristics were selected

randomly from the six characteristics noted above. The LLB

condition did not contain any of the six characteristics

listed above. Instead, the LLB condition included parallel

positive self-disclosures that "mirror" the bragging self-

disclosures. For example, rather than "less emphasis on

hard work" as in the HLB condition, the LLB condition

indicated more emphasis on hard work. See Appendices A, B,

and C for the texts of the HLB, MLB, and LLB scenarios,


Dependent Variables

Probability of hiring. Probability of hiring was

operationalized as the respondents' recommendation for

hiring the job applicant depicted in the interview scenario.

Subjects responded to a single questionnaire item,

indicating on a scale from 0-100%, the probability of

recommending to a supervisor that the applicant be hired.

Communication competence. Communication competence was

operationalized as the score on an "other-reference" adapted

communication competence scale. That is, subjects evaluated

the communication competence of another person as opposed to

evaluating their own communication competence.

The initial communication competence scale for this

study was developed from items on the Conversational

Effectiveness Scale (CES) and the Conversational

Appropriateness Scale (CAS) developed by Spitzberg and

Canary (1985). The CES and CAS were designed to measure

perceptions of appropriateness and effectiveness in a single

conversational episode (Spitzberg, 1993). Sometimes the

scales are used separately and sometimes they are used

together as a single scale (cf. Canary & Spitzberg, 1987;

Spitzberg, 1993; Spitzberg & Canary, 1985).

The original CES and the CAS questionnaires each

consist of 20 Likert-type items. Of the 20 items on the

CES, 10 are positively worded and 10 are negatively worded.

Of the 20 items on the CAS, 8 are positively worded and 12

are negatively worded. The possible range of scores on each

of the original scales is from 20 to 100. When the scales

are combined, the possible range of scores is from 40 to

200. A high score indicates high communication competence.

The CES and CAS have been reworded in both self-

reference and other-reference formats (Spitzberg & Cupach,

1989). "Self-reference" formats refer to evaluations of

one's own communication competence. "Other-reference"

formats refer to evaluations of another's communication

competence. In addition, the measures have been adapted to

hypothetical conversations such as those presented in this

study. Reliability typically has been in the .80s

(Spitzberg, 1993). According to Spitzberg (1993), the CES

and CAS have "displayed highly sensible validity

coefficients" (p. 4) with other measures of communication

competence as well as measures of conflict strategies,

communication satisfaction, trust, and mutuality of control.

In this study, selected items from the CES and CAS

formed an initial communication competence scale. However,

the final items used in analyses were based on the results

of factor analysis. Thus, it was the adapted scale

resulting from factor analysis, not the initial scale, that

provided a score for overall communication competence.

Overall communication competence was computed by (a)

dividing the score for each factor by the number of items in

the factor and then (b) adding the scores of the four

factors. See Appendix D for the initial communication

competence scale.

Communication effectiveness. Communication

effectiveness was operationalized as the score on items

loading on the effectiveness factors of the communication

competence scale. Items referring to communication

effectiveness were taken from the CES. Items on the CES

refer to one's personal success, control, and goal

achievement in a conversation, but were reworded in this

study to reflect an assessment of "other" in the

conversation. For example, "I was an ineffective

conversationalist" was revised to read "Susan (Steve) was an

ineffective conversationalist." Seven items on the CES

refer to control in the conversation. For example, "The

other person was more active in the conversation than I

was." These seven items were deleted because they could not

be reworded to reflect "other-reference" without

jeopardizing the integrity of the question. The remaining

13 items on the CES were included in the initial

communication competence scale as an effectiveness subscale.

However, only those items that met the criteria for factor

loading were used in the analysis of data.

Communication appropriateness. Communication

appropriateness was operationalized as the score on items

loading on the appropriateness factors of the communication

competence scale. Items referring to communication

appropriateness were taken from the CAS. Items on the CAS

refer to the other person (e.g., "Some of her/his remarks

were simply improper."). Rather than use "her/his," as

indicated on the original scale, items were worded to

reflect "her" or "his," and in some cases "Steve" or

"Susan," as appropriate for the particular job applicant.

One item on the CAS refers to interruptions and was deleted

from this study. The remaining 19 items on the CAS were

included in the initial communication competence scale as an

appropriateness subscale. However, only those items that

met the criteria for factor loading were used in the

analysis of data.

Initial Communication Competence Scale

The initial communication competence measure used in

this study consisted of 32 items, 13 items from the CES and

19 items from the CAS. These 32 items were ordered randomly

to produce an initial scale for evaluating communication

competence. However, the final communication competence

scale and subscales used in analyses were established by

factor analysis.

The CES and CAS use a traditional Likert-type format

for responding to items. However, some scholars suggest

0-100 scaling over more traditional 5 or 7 point Likert-type

scales (e.g., McCroskey, 1992). McCroskey contends that the

0-100 probability response format,

allows the respondent to use a response system common
to most individuals from elementary school on. It is
used, for example, as the measure of success in many
instructional systems and commonly used to indicate
weather patterns in news reports. Simply put, it is an
estimation system commonly understood by lay people.
(p. 21)

The 0-100 scales offer a number of advantages.

Specifically, they allow for considerable variance and

therefore are suited to measures of process such as the

process of communication. Furthermore, they are capable of

fine discrimination among stimuli. As a result, such

scaling tends to yield more highly reliable findings

(Barnett, Hamlin, & Danowski, 1982). Therefore, a 0-100

scaling format was used for this study.


A convenience sample was used in this study.

Respondents were 442 undergraduates enrolled in a basic

Theatre Appreciation course. The experiment was conducted

during a regularly scheduled class time. Respondents

received extra credit for participation.


Subjects were asked to assume the role of interviewer

when reading the scenarios. Each subject was asked to read

one interview scenario and then evaluate the job applicant

by responding to the communication competence scale. The

use of college students as "interviewers" has received

research attention. A number of investigations indicate no

significant differences between professional interviewers

and college students with respect to main effects (cf.

Bernstein, Hakel, & Harlan, 1975; Dipboye, Fromkin, &

Wibach, 1975; McGovern, Jones, & Morris, 1979). Thus, Arvey

and Campion (1982) conclude that the use of college students

as interviewers produces minimal threat to generalizability.

Respondents were asked to indicate the probability that

they would recommend hiring Susan (Steve) and were also

asked to rate ten qualities of job applicants in terms of

the importance of each to a successful job interview. Basic

demographic information (sex, age, year in school) also was


requested of each respondent. For the question relating to

probability of hiring, characteristics of a successful job

applicant, and questions regarding demographic information,

see Appendices D, E, and F respectively.

Data Analysis

Statistical analyses was conducted using the

Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS-X).

Alpha was set at .05 for all tests. General analyses

included descriptive statistics and scale development

procedures. Specifically, factor analysis was used to

establish the factor structure of the adapted communication

competence scale. A principal components factor analysis

with orthogonal varimax rotation was performed. Criteria

for item selection was (a) a .6 primary loading with a .4

maximum secondary loading, (b) an eigenvalue of no less than

1.0, and (c) at least two items for each factor (Harman,

1968). In addition, scale development included reliability

analyses for the adapted communication competence scale and

the effectiveness and appropriateness subscales. Later,

descriptive data relating to respondents' perceptions of

important interviewee qualities were also reported.

Research questions one through four were answered via a

series of three-factor ANOVAs to test for the effects of sex

of respondent, sex of applicant, and level of bragging on

evaluations of communication competence, communication

effectiveness, communication appropriateness, and

probability of hiring. Where there were statistically

significant F values, appropriate follow-up tests were

conducted using the Behrens-Fisher t-test. The Behrens-

Fisher t-test is robust to violations of homogeneity of

variance and offers a conservative test where a large number

of tests are conducted (Nie, Hull, Jenkins, Steinbrenner, &

Bent, 1975).

Pearson product-moment correlations were used to answer

research question five, which addressed the possible

relationships among probability of hiring, communication

competence, effectiveness, and appropriateness. Likewise,

Pearson product-moment correlations were used to answer

research question six, which addressed the relationships

among 10 characteristics of the successful job applicant,

communication competence, effectiveness, and


Hypotheses one through three were tested via a series

of a priori contrasts specifying LSD (least-significant

difference) ranges for comparisons of male and female

applicants. Hypothesis four was tested via a priori

contrasts specifying LSD (least-significant difference)

ranges for comparisons of all possible pairs of level of

bragging. Results of all statistical analyses will be

reported in Chapter 4.


To investigate the influence of gender and bragging on

evaluations of communication competence, communication

effectiveness, communication appropriateness, and

probability of hiring, data were analyzed for 422 cases. A

2 x 2 x 3 factorial design was used to test four hypotheses

and answer six research questions. A description of the

sample, results of scale development and reliability

analyses, descriptive statistics, results of statistical

analyses, and follow-up tests are reported in the sections

that follow.

Sample Characteristics

A convenience sample of 442 undergraduate students

enrolled in a Theatre Appreciation course at a large

southeastern university participated in this study. Twenty

sets of responses were eliminated due to gross

incompletions. Of the remaining 422 participants, 222

(52.6%) were female and 200 (47.4%) were male. Ages ranged

from 17 to 43 years with the mean age being 19 years. There

were 239 (56.6%) first year students, 108 (25.6%)

sophomores, 33 (7.8%) juniors, and 22 (5.2%) seniors,

reflecting the lower-division course used for the study.

Twenty respondents (4.7%) failed to identify their year in


Manipulation Check

To determine if the three levels of bragging as

manipulated in the study actually were perceived to be

different, and in the direction presumed by the manipulation

treatments, respondents were asked the following question:

"How much did Steve (Susan), the interviewee in the

scenario, brag?" A nine-point scale was used where

responses ranged from "0" ("Low") to "9" ("High"). A priori

contrasts specifying LSD (least-significant difference)

ranges were used for comparisons of all possible pairs of

level of bragging. Level of bragging manipulated (low,

moderate, high) was the independent variable and perceived

bragging rate was the dependent variable in these tests.

Differences among the three levels of bragging were

statistically significant. Specifically, the mean for low

level bragging (LLB) (M = 4.70) was lower than the mean for

moderate level bragging (MLB) (M = 6.66) (t = 7.16, df =

228, E< .001) and high level bragging (HLB) (M = 8.25) (t =

14.89, df = 160, E< .001). In addition, the mean for MLB (M

= 6.66) was lower than that for HLB (8.25) (t = 8.42, df =

220, R< .001). These findings indicate that respondents

perceived the three levels to be distinctly different from

one another. See Appendix F for the manipulation check as

it appeared in the communication competence scale.

Scale Development

Factor Analysis

Items on the Conversational Effectiveness Scale (CES)

and Conversational Appropriateness Scale (CAS) had been

reworded and applied to a written hypothetical scenario in

this study. Therefore, factor analysis was appropriate in

order to determine if the two-factor structure of the

original scales remained stable with these changes. In

addition, factor analysis by Canary and Spitzberg (1987)

revealed three independent factors (which they labeled

effectiveness, general appropriateness, and specific

appropriateness) rather than two when they used the 40

questions from the CES and CAS. Thus, a principal

components factor analysis with Kaiser varimax rotation was

performed to determine the factor structure of the adapted

instrument in the present investigation. Table 1 details

the results of the factor analysis.

The CES and CAS used in this study for development of

an adapted communication competence scale, ostensibly

measure two factors. Specifically, items on the CES are

purported to measure conversational effectiveness while

items on the CAS measure conversational appropriateness.

Four factors emerged from the principal components

factor analysis instead of only two factors of communication

effectiveness and communication appropriateness. The four

factors were labeled Conversational Appropriateness (CA),


Table 1

Factor Analysis of Appropriateness and Effectiveness
Measures (Principal Components with Kaiser Varimax Rotation)

1 2 3 4

1. a useless conversation .07 .19 .03 .69
2. remarks unsuitable .66 .20 .10 .32
3. everything said appropriate .61 .35 -.05 .15
4. smooth conversationalist .41 .50 -.11 .23
5. conversation was unprofitable .28 .18 .04 .73
6. applicant was effective .42 .55 -.03 .26
7. conversation was unrewarding .18 .19 .15 .74
8. did not violate expectations .51 .33 .21 .07
9. applicant achieved goals .23 .60 -.09 .10
10. made me feel uncomfortable .40 -.04 .61 .12
11. ineffective conversationalist .36 .24 .15 .49
12. conversation was beneficial .37 .59 .11 .39
13. I was comfortable throughout .36 .34 .54 .13
14. said incorrect things .78 .17 .25 .21
15. things should not be said .70 .11 .24 .22
16. spoke in good taste .53 .28 .44 .10
17. things seemed out of place .63 .28 .12 .25
18. remarks simply improper .75 .12 .35 .16
19. conversation was suitable .37 .60 .18 .22
20. conversation was unsuccessful .31 .37 .26 .56
21. I was embarrassed by remarks .13 -.02 .72 .27
22. went how applicant wanted -.10 .68 .12 .05
23. not embarrassing to me .03 .19 .75 -.07
24. one remark was rude .39 .02 .65 .06
25. remarks were inappropriate .77 .09 .37 .15
26. an advantageous conversation .19 .66 .07 .34
27. a rewarding conversation .24 .70 .14 .36
28. communication was proper .43 .59 .19 .00
29. things said in bad taste .58 .09 .55 .14
30. got what he/she wanted .01 .81 .10 .05
31. things said were awkward .63 .14 .16 .11
32. useful and helpful .23 .68 .16 .34

Note: Underlined items meet criteria for factor selection.

Conversational Effectiveness (CE), Relational

Appropriateness (RA), and Conversational Ineffectiveness

(CI). Total variance accounted for by the four factors was

58.40%. Individually, the factors CA, CE, RA, and CI

accounted for 39.3%, 9.7%, 5.0%, and 4.4% of the total

variance, respectively.

Of the 13 items intended to measure communication

effectiveness on the initial scale, nine items met the

criteria for factor selection. Of the 19 items intended to

measure communication appropriateness on the initial scale,

13 items met the criteria for factor selection.

The first factor was labeled Conversational

Appropriateness (CA). The eight items comprising this

factor generally assess the suitability of the speaker's

remarks to a particular conversational situation (e.g.,

"Some of his/her remarks were simply improper"). The mean

inter-item correlation for CA was .54.

The second factor was labeled Conversational

Effectiveness (CE). CE is comprised of six items (mean

inter-item correlation .52) that evaluate whether or not the

speaker accomplished his or her goal in a particular

interaction (e.g., "It was a rewarding conversation for


The third factor, labeled Relational Appropriateness

(RA), consisted of four items. RA is most apparent in items

that relate to feelings aroused in the "receiver" by the

speaker's remarks (e.g., "I was embarrassed at times by

his/her remarks") (mean inter-item correlation .46).

The fourth factor, comprised of three items, was

labeled Conversational Ineffectiveness (CI). CI is

identified by items which evaluate the level of

ineffectiveness of the conversation for the speaker (e.g.,

"The conversation was unprofitable for Steve/Susan"). The

mean inter-item correlation for CI was .48.

The final items were for CA: 2, 3, 14, 15, 17, 18, 25,

and 31; for CE: 9, 19, 22, 26, 27, 30, and 32; for RA: 10,

21, 23, and 24; for CI: 1, 5, and 7. Table 2 details items

sorted by factor.

Table 2

Sorted Factor Analysis of Appropriateness and Effectiveness

Factor Item
Loading Corr.

Factor 1 (Conversational Appropriateness)

2. The WAY he/she said some of his/her .66 .68
remarks was unsuitable.

3. Everything he/she said was appropriate. .61 .58

14. He/she said some things that were .74 .78
simply the incorrect things to say.

15. He/she said some things that should .70 .72
not have been said.

17. He/she said several things that seemed .63 .68
out of place in the conversation.

18. Some of his/her remarks were simply .75 .78

25. Some of his/her remarks were .77 .78

31. Some of the things he/she said .63 .61
were awkward.

Table 2--Continued
Factor Item
Loading Corr.

Factor 2 (Conversational Effectiveness)

9. Steve/Susan achieved everything he .60 .50
hoped to achieve in the conversation.

19. His/her conversation was very suitable .60 .65
to the situation.

22. The conversation went pretty much the .68 .51
way Steve/Susan wanted.

26. It was an advantageous conversation .66 .71
for Steve/Susan.

27. It was a rewarding conversation for .70 .78

30. Steve/Susan got what he/she wanted .81 .63
out of the conversation.

32. The conversation was very useful and .68 .75
helpful for Steve/Susan.

Factor 3 (Relational Appropriateness)

10. Occasionally, his/her statements made .61 .58
me feel uncomfortable.

21. I was embarrassed at times by his/her .72 .60

23. None of his/her remarks were .75 .53
embarrassing to me.

24. At least one of his/her remarks .65 .58
was rude.

Factor 4 (Conversational Ineffectiveness)

1. It was a useless conversation for .69 .52

5. The conversation was unprofitable for .73 .59

7. The conversation was very unrewarding .74 .59
for Steve/Susan.

Correlations Among Factors

Pearson correlations among overall communication

competence and the four subfactors (CA, CE, RA, and CI) were

all positive and statistically significant. Table 3 reports

these correlations.

Table 3

Pearson Product-Moment Correlations among Conversation
Appropriateness, Relational Appropriateness, Conversational
Effectiveness, Conversational Ineffectiveness, and
Communication Competence


CA -- .58 .52 .51 .85

RA -- .28 .29 .72

CE -- .54 .72

CI -- .74

Note: All correlations significant at R < .001.
Range for n is 410 418.


Only those items which met the criteria for factor

selection were used in conducting reliability analyses for

the adapted communication competence scale and the four

subscales. The final Cronbach's coefficient alphas for the

subscales based on the four factors were .91 for CA, .86 for

CE, .77 for RA, and .73 for CI. Coefficient alpha for the

adapted communication competence scale was .91.

Descriptive Statistics

Tables 4 through 9 summarize the descriptive statistics

for the 12 cells of each dependent variable. The dependent

variables include communication competence, CE, CI, CA, RA,

and probability of hiring.

Hypotheses and Research Questions

Gender Differences in Communication Competence

Hypothesis one predicted: "Evaluations of the overall

communication competence of male and female applicants

differ." An a priori contrast specifying the LSD (least-

significant difference) range was used to compare male and

female applicants. Although male applicants were rated

higher in overall communication competence (M = 19.51) than

female applicants (M = 18.83), the difference was not

statistically significant (t = -.85, df = 403, R< .40).

Thus, Hypothesis 1 was not supported.

Research question one asked: "Do evaluations of the

overall communication competence of applicants differ on the

basis of sex of respondent, level of bragging, and/or the

interaction of these variables with each other and/or with

sex of applicant?" A three-factor ANOVA revealed a main

effect for level of bragging only (F = 38.03, df = 2,393, R<

.001) with no significant interaction effects. Table 10

details the results of the analysis of variance.

Table 4

Descriptive Statistics for Communication Competence

Level of Sex of Sex of
Bragging Applicant Respondent Mean S.D. n

Low Male Male 24.32 6.37 29
Female 20.69 7.67 32

Female Male 21.87 7.72 31
Female 22.98 8.97 35

Moderate Male Male 20.93 7.38 34
Female 21.97 7.73 34

Female Male 21.04 7.75 35
Female 18.24 8.13 36

High Male Male 15.18 7.41 33
Female 15.16 6.92 38

Female Male 14.78 6.84 31
Female 14.20 6.22 37

Total for Applicants Male 19.51 7.95 200
Female 18.83 8.30 205

Total for Respondents Male 19.64 7.98 193
Female 18.73 8.25 212

Total for Sample 19.17 8.13 405

Table 5

Statistics for Conver ness

Level of Sex of Sex of
Bragging Applicant Respondent Mean S.D. n

Low Male Male 5.20 1.72 29
Female 3.62 2.50 32

Female Male 4.66 2.15 31
Female 4.57 2.40 35

Moderate Male Male 4.97 2.18 35
Female 5.26 2.17 36

Female Male 4.94 2.11 36
Female 4.21 2.48 36

High Male Male 3.64 2.48 34
Female 3.68 2.27 38

Female Male 3.97 2.15 32
Female 3.91 2.11 37

Total for Applicants Male 4.38 2.34 204
Female 4.37 2.24 207

Total for Respondents Male 4.56 2.20 197
Female 4.21 2.36 214

Total for Sample 4.38 2.29 411


Table 6


Statistics for Conversational Ineffe s

Level of Sex of Sex of
Bragging Applicant Respondent Mean S.D. n

Low Male Male 6.23 2.62 29
Female 5.19 2.71 34

Female Male 5.20 3.14 32
Female 6.01 2.78 35

Moderate Male Male 5.75 2.32 34
Female 6.28 3.05 37

Female Male 5.71 2.50 37
Female 5.70 2.66 38

High Male Male 4.83 2.39 33
Female 4.75 2.30 39

Female Male 4.43 2.52 33
Female 4.83 2.34 37

Total for Applicants Male 5.48 2.62 206
Female 5.33 2.68 212

Total for Respondents Male 5.35 2.62 198
Female 5.45 2.68 220

Total for Sample 5.41 2.65 418


Table 7

Descriptive Statistics for Conversational Appropriateness

Level of Sex of Sex of
Bragging Applicant Respondent Mean S.D. n

Low Male Male 5.35 2.24 29
Female 4.35 2.70 34

Female Male 4.77 2.49 32
Female 4.84 2.98 35

Moderate Male Male 4.03 2.65 35
Female 3.93 2.79 37

Female Male 4.01 2.65 36
Female 3.38 2.87 38

High Male Male 2.29 2.49 34
Female 2.45 2.01 38

Female Male 2.34 2.21 32
Female 2.02 1.86 37

Total for Applicants Male 3.67 2.68 207
Female 3.54 2.74 210

Total for Respondents Male 3.77 2.68 198
Female 3.46 2.73 219

Total for Sample 3.61 2.71 417

Table 8

Descri tive

Statistics for Relational Annronriateness

Level of Sex of Sex of
Bragging Applicant Respondent Mean S.D. n

Low Male Male 7.52 1.76 29
Female 7.53 2.12 33

Female Male 7.30 2.58 32
Female 7.56 2.41 35

Moderate Male Male 6.01 2.54 35
Female 5.73 2.88 36

Female Male 6.24 2.90 35
Female 5.64 3.30 39

High Male Male 4.13 2.84 34
Female 4.33 2.69 38

Female Male 3.81 2.95 33
Female 3.43 2.34 37

Total for Applicants Male 5.80 2.83 205
Female 5.64 3.16 211

Total for Respondents Male 5.79 2.97 198
Female 5.65 3.04 218

Total for Sample 5.72 3.00 416

n"m= r- + iin

Table 9

for Probabilit of n

nL ,* .I. L. V + J I..I. J .A. ,J. J. t A. i.J.I..; a

Level of Sex of Sex of
Bragging Applicant Respondent Mean S.D. n

Low Male Male 54.00 25.18 27
Female 46.39 26.89 28

Female Male 56.68 32.89 29
Female 53.27 24.69 33

Moderate Male Male 54.78 25.34 33
Female 47.00 27.31 33

Female Male 60.91 24.27 34
Female 49.24 28.99 33

High Male Male 41.00 30.15 32
Female 39.76 24.52 34

Female Male 39.50 27.44 32
Female 37.02 23.72 35

Total for Applicants Male 46.95 26.91 187
Female 49.27 28.07 196

Total for Respondents Male 51.10 28.47 187
Female 45.31 26.31 196

Total for Sample 48.14 27.50 383

r\r~a~r; ~~;r+a eC~f i af(~a

Table 10

Analysis of Variance for Communication Competence

Source of Variation SS df MS F

Sex of Applicant (SA) 72.65 1 72.65 1.30
Level of Bragging (B) 4245.22 2 2122.61 38.03*
Sex of Respondent (SR) 62.04 1 62.04 1.11
SA x B 60.18 2 30.09 .54
SA x SR .02 1 .02 .01
B x SR 13.81 2 6.91 .12
SA x B x SR 306.85 2 153.43 2.75
Error 21936.51 393 55.82

*E< .001

Follow-up t-tests indicated that the differences among

all three levels of bragging were statistically significant.

Evaluations of communication competence were higher for low

level bragging (LLB) (M = 22.44) than for both moderate

level bragging (MLB) (M = 20.52) and high level bragging

(HLB) (M = 14.82). In addition, MLB resulted in higher

evaluations of communication competence (M = 20.52) than did

HLB (M = 14.82). The specific differences among levels of

bragging as related to evaluations of overall communication

competence are reported in the results of the tests for

Hypothesis 4.

Gender Differences in Communication Effectiveness

Hypothesis two predicted: "Evaluations of the

communication effectiveness of male and female applicants

differ." An a priori contrast specifying the LSD (least-

significant difference) range was used to compare male and