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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
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McKenzie, Nelya Jane, 1948-
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x, 153 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.

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Boasting ( jstor )
Employment discrimination ( jstor )
Employment interviews ( jstor )
Gender roles ( jstor )
Job performance evaluation ( jstor )
Men ( jstor )
Personnel evaluation ( jstor )
Propriety ( jstor )
Sex linked differences ( jstor )
Social interaction ( jstor )
Communication -- Sex differences ( lcsh )
Communication in management ( lcsh )
Pride and vanity ( lcsh )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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

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WHEN SHE SAYS WHAT HE SAYS: THE INFLUENCE OF GENDER
AND BRAGGING ON EVALUATIONS OF COMMUNICATION COMPETENCE














By

NELYA JANE McKENZIE


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


1994












ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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

efforts.

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.


iii













TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

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

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

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

CHAPTERS

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

APPENDICES

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

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

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

D MEASURES OF COMMUNICATION COMPETENCE AND
PROBABILITY OF HIRING.......................... 137

E CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SUCCESSFUL JOB APPLICANT.. 140

F DEMOGRAPHIC QUESTIONS AND MANIPULATION
CHECK.................. ........................ 141

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

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












LIST OF TABLES


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

vii







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


viii












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

WHEN SHE SAYS WHAT HE SAYS: THE INFLUENCE OF GENDER
AND BRAGGING ON EVALUATIONS OF COMMUNICATION COMPETENCE

By

NELYA JANE McKENZIE

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.

ix






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.












CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

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






3

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






8

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.

Rationale

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

appropriateness.

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






11

discussion of findings and conclusions. Complete appendices

and a reference list conclude this report.












CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE


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

behaviors.

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

predetermined.

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






15

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

differences.

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).







16

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."







17

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.

166).

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)






20

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,






21

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

similar.

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

attainment).

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,

1984).

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

norms.








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

communication.

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

communication.

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






31
choice is based on personal preference rather than existing

theory.

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






34

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.






35

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.,

1978).

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

competence.








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.






38

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






39

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

individuals.

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

applicant.

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

gender.

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







42

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






43
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

statements.

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






45
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

evaluated.

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

disclaimers).

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.
408).

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






50

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.

84).

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

interview.

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






53

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.

Summary

A number of perspectives purport to explain the nature

of gender differences in social behavior. The physiological







58

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?






60
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

appropriateness?

R6: What are the relationships among (a) communication

competence, (b) communication effectiveness, (c)






61

communication appropriateness and (d) 10

characteristics of the successful job applicant?












CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY


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.

Design

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






64

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

participation.

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)."






66
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

identical.

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,

respectively.

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






68
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





69
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.

Subjects

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.

Procedures

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






73

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

appropriateness.

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.












CHAPTER 4
RESULTS


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

school.

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),






78

Table 1

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

Factor
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

Steve/Susan").

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
improper.

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

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
Steve/Susan.

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
remarks.

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
Steve/Susan.

5. The conversation was unprofitable for .73 .59
Steve/Susan.

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 RA CE CI ComComp

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.



Reliability

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


Descriptive








Table 6


Descriptive


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


Descriptiv








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




Full Text

WHEN SHE SAYS WHAT HE SAYS: THE INFLUENCE OF GENDER
AND BRAGGING ON EVALUATIONS OF COMMUNICATION COMPETENCE
By
NELYA JANE McKENZIE
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1994

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
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.
IX

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
efforts.
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.
in

TABLE OF CONTENTS
page
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ii
LIST OF TABLES vii
ABSTRACT ix
CHAPTERS
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
IV

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 7 3
4 RESULTS 75
Sample Characteristics 75
Manipulation Check 7 6
Scale Development 7 7
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 Ill
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
v

Probability of Recommending Applicant Be Hired... 128
Limitations of the Present Investigation 130
Future Research in Communication Competence 131
APPENDICES
A HIGH BRAGGING SCENARIO 134
B MODERATE BRAGGING SCENARIO 135
C LOW BRAGGING SCENARIO 136
D MEASURES OF COMMUNICATION COMPETENCE AND
PROBABILITY OF HIRING 137
E CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SUCCESSFUL JOB APPLICANT.. 140
F DEMOGRAPHIC QUESTIONS AND MANIPULATION
CHECK 141
REFERENCES 142
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 153
vi

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
LIST OF TABLES
page
Factor Analysis of Appropriateness and
Effectiveness Measures 78
Sorted Factor Analysis of Appropriateness
and Effectiveness 80
Pearson Product-Moment Correlations among
Conversational Appropriateness, Relational
Appropriateness, Conversational Effectiveness
and Communication Competence 82
Descriptive Statistics for Communication
Competence 84
Descriptive Statistics for Conversational
Effectiveness 85
Descriptive Statistics for Conversational
Ineffectiveness 86
Descriptive Statistics for Conversational
Appropriateness 87
Descriptive Statistics for Relational
Appropriateness 88
Descriptive Statistics for Probability
of Hiring 89
Analysis of Variance for Communication
Competence 90
Analysis of Variance for Conversational
Effectiveness 92
Effect of Level of Bragging on Conversational
Effectiveness 92
Analysis of Variance for Conversational
Ineffectiveness 93
Vll

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
Vlll

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
WHEN SHE SAYS WHAT HE SAYS: THE INFLUENCE OF GENDER
AND BRAGGING ON EVALUATIONS OF COMMUNICATION COMPETENCE
By
NELYA JANE McKENZIE
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.
ix

They were labeled Conversational Appropriateness (CA),
Relational Appropriateness (RA), Conversational
Effectiveness (CE), and Conversational Ineffectiveness (Cl).
Evaluations of male and female job applicants' overall
communication competence, CA, RA, CE, and Cl, 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 Cl 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 Cl 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.
x

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
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.
1

2
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" (Bern,
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

3
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.

4
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).

5
"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

6
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

7
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

8
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

9
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.
Rationale
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

10
of communication competence, effectiveness, and
appropriateness.
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

11
discussion of findings and conclusions. Complete appendices
and a reference list conclude this report.

CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
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
behaviors.
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
12

13
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
predetermined.
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

14
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

15
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
differences.
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).

16
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."

17
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

18
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.
Í
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.

19
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 aqentic
behaviors (task-oriented, directive behaviors) than women,
and women, due to their homemaker roles, enacting more
communal (interpersonally oriented) behaviors than men” (p.
166) .
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)

20
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,

21
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
similar.
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

22
(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

23
"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
attainment).
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

24
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,
1984).
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
norms.

25
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
communication.
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

26
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.

27
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

28
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
communication.
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

29
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

30
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 position(s) he or she will take, recognizing that the

31
choice is based on personal preference rather than existing
theory.
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

32
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.

33
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

34
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.

35
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.,
1978) .
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
competence.

36
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)

37
Communicative Competence Scale (empathy, behavioral
flexibility, and affiliation/support). Respondents also
completed the Bern 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.

38
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

39
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).

40
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
individuals.
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

41
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
applicant.
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
gender.
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

42
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

43
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
statements.
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.

44
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
atheoretical" (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

45
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
evaluated.
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)

46
issues of communication competence with a focus on gender
differences in language use (e.g., tag questions and
disclaimers).
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.
408) .
If interactants base their evaluations of one another's
communication competence on adherence to gender-role

47
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.

48
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

49
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

50
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.
84) .
In summary, evaluations of competence and attributions
of success or failure on tasks appear to be influenced by

51
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
interview.
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

52
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

53
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

54
& 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.

55
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

56
perceptions of the boastful speaker and the positive self¬
disc loser 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.

57
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.
Summary
A number of perspectives purport to explain the nature
of gender differences in social behavior. The physiological

58
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

59
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?

60
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
appropriateness?
R6: What are the relationships among (a) communication
competence, (b) communication effectiveness, (c)

61
communication appropriateness and (d) 10
characteristics of the successful job applicant?

CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY
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.
Design
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
62

63
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

64
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
participation.
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, p< .02), but not for sex
of applicant. There was not a statistically significant
interaction effect. A follow-up t-test revealed that "high"

65
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, p < .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, e< -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 (p< .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)."

66
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
identical.
Bragging. 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

67
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,
respectively.
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

68
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

69
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

70
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

71
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 discriminations among stimuli. As a result, such
scaling tends to yield more highly reliable findings

72
(Barnett, Hamlin, & Danowski, 1982). Therefore, a 0-100
scaling format was used for this study.
Subjects
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.
Procedures
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

73
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

74
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
appropriateness.
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.

CHAPTER 4
RESULTS
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
2x2x3 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.
75

76
Twenty respondents (4.7%) failed to identify their year in
school.
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, p< .001) and high level bragging (HLB) (M = 8.25) (t =
14.89, df = 160, p< .001). In addition, the mean for MLB (M
= 6.66) was lower than that for HLB (8.25) (t = 8.42, df =
220, p< .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.

77
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),

78
Table 1
Factor Analysis of Appropriateness and Effectiveness
Measures (Principal Components with Kaiser Varimax Rotation^
Factor
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
(Cl). Total variance accounted for by the four factors was

79
58.40%. Individually, the factors CA, CE, RA, and Cl
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
Steve/Susan").
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).

80
The fourth factor, comprised of three items, was
labeled Conversational Ineffectiveness (Cl). Cl 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 Cl 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 Cl: 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
remarks was unsuitable.
.66
.68
3.
Everything he/she said was appropriate.
.61
.58
14.
He/she said some things that were
simply the incorrect things to say.
.74
.78
15.
He/she said some things that should
not have been said.
.70
.72
17 .
He/she said several things that seemed
out of place in the conversation.
.63
.68
18.
Some of his/her remarks were simply
improper.
.75
CO
•
25.
Some of his/her remarks were
inappropriate.
.77
.78
31.
Some of the things he/she said
were awkward.
.63
.61

81
Table 2--Continued
Factor
Loading
Item
Corr.
Factor 2 (Conversational Effectiveness 1
9. Steve/Susan achieved everything he
hoped to achieve in the conversation.
.60
.50
19. His/her conversation was very suitable
to the situation.
.60
.65
22. The conversation went pretty much the
way Steve/Susan wanted.
.68
.51
26. It was an advantageous conversation
for Steve/Susan.
.66
.71
27. It was a rewarding conversation for
Steve/Susan.
.70
.78
30. Steve/Susan got what he/she wanted
out of the conversation.
.81
.63
32. The conversation was very useful and
helpful for Steve/Susan.
Factor 3 (Relational Appropriateness)
CO
k£)
•
.75
10. Occasionally, his/her statements made
me feel uncomfortable.
.61
.58
21. I was embarrassed at times by his/her
remarks.
.72
.60
23. None of his/her remarks were
embarrassing to me.
.75
.53
24. At least one of his/her remarks
was rude.
Factor 4 (Conversational Ineffectiveness}
.65
.58
1. It was a useless conversation for
Steve/Susan.
.69
.52
5. The conversation was unprofitable for
Steve/Susan.
.73
.59
7. The conversation was very unrewarding
for Steve/Susan.
.74
.59

82
Correlations Among Factors
Pearson correlations among overall communication
competence and the four subfactors (CA, CE, RA, and Cl) 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 RA
CE
Cl
ComComp
CA
i
i
•
U1
00
.52
.51
in
00
•
RA
—
.28
.29
.72
CE
—
.54
.72
Cl
—
.74
Note:
All correlations significant at p <
Range for n is 410 - 418.
.001.
Reliability
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 Cl. Coefficient alpha for the
adapted communication competence scale was .91.

83
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, Cl, 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, p< .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, p<
.001) with no significant interaction effects. Table 10
details the results of the analysis of variance.

84
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

85
Table 5
Descriptive Statistics for Conversational Effectiveness
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

86
Table 6
Descriptive Statistics for Conversational Ineffectiveness
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

87
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

88
Table 8
Descriptive Statistics for Relational Appropriateness
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

89
Table 9
Descriptive Statistics for Probability of Hiring
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

90
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
*p< .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

91
female applicants. Male applicants were rated slightly
higher in Conversational Effectiveness (CE) (M = 4.38) than
were female applicants (M = 4.37) (t = -.01, df = 407, p<
.98). Male applicants were also rated slightly higher in
Conversational Ineffectiveness (Cl) (M = 5.48) than female
applicants (M = 5.33) (t = -.60, df = 416, p< .55). These
differences were not statistically significant. Thus,
Hypothesis 2 was not supported.
Research question two asked: "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?" For Conversational Effectiveness (CE), a
three-factor ANOVA revealed a main effect for level of
bragging only (F = 7.85, df = 2,309, p< .001). There were
no significant interaction effects. Table 11 details the
results of the analysis of variance.
Follow-up t-tests indicated that the mean difference
between low level bragging (LLB) (M = 4.49) and high level
bragging (HLB) (M = 3.80) was statistically significant for
CE. Specifically, LLB resulted in higher evaluations of CE
(M = 4.49) than did HLB (M = 3.80). In addition, the
difference in means for moderate level bragging (MLB) (M =
4.84) and HLB (M = 3.80) was statistically significant.
However, the difference between means for LLB (M = 4.49) and

92
Table 11
Analysis of Variance for Conversational Effectiveness
Source of Variation
SS
df
MS
F
Sex of Applicant (SA)
.03
1
.03
.01
Level of Bragging (B)
79.06
2
39.52
7.85*
Sex of Respondent (SR)
11.13
1
11.13
2.21
SA x B
14.97
2
7.48
1.48
SA x SR
. 10
1
. 10
.02
B x SR
11.05
2
5.52
1.09
SA x B x SR
26.81
2
13.41
2.66
Error
2149.91
401
5.36
*P< .001
MLB (M = 4.84) was not statistically significant. Table 12
details the effect of level of bragging on evaluations of
CE.
Table 12
Effect of Level of Bragging on Conversational Effectiveness
Level of Bragging
M
t
df
E
LLB
4.49
-1.27
263
.20
MLB
4.84
LLB
4.49
2.52
262
.012
HLB
3.80
MLB
4.84
3.93
282
.001
HLB
3.80

93
For Conversational Ineffectiveness (Cl), a three-factor
ANOVA revealed a main effect for level of bragging only (F =
7.75, df = 2,406, p< *001). There were no significant
interaction effects. Table 13 details the results of the
analysis of variance.
Table 13
Analysis of Variance for Conversational Ineffectiveness
Source of Variation
SS
df
MS
F
Sex of Applicant (SA)
3.16
1
3.16
.46
Level of Bragging (B)
106.61
2
53.30
7.75*
Sex of Respondent (SR)
1.33
1
1.33
.19
SA x B
1.18
2
.59
.09
SA x SR
7.63
1
7.63
1.11
B x SR
2.17
2
1.08
.16
SA x B x SR
24.63
2
12.31
1.79
Error
2792.43
406
6.87
*P< .001
Follow-up t-tests indicated that the mean difference
between LLB and HLB was statistically significant for Cl.
Specifically, LLB resulted in higher evaluations of Cl (M =
5.65) than did HLB (M = 4.71). In addition, the difference
in means for MLB (M = 5.86) and HLB (M = 4.71) was
statistically significant. However, the difference between
means for LLB (M = 5.65) and MLB (M = 5.86) was not
statistically significant. Table 14 details the effects of
level of bragging on evaluations of Cl.

94
Table 14
Effect of Level of Bragging on Conversational
Ineffectiveness
Level of Bragging
M
t
df
E
LLB
5.65
-.65
264
.514
MLB
5.86
LLB
5.65
2.93
252
.004
HLB
4.71
MLB
5.86
3.88
284
.001
HLB
4.71
Gender Differences in Communication Appropriateness
Hypothesis three predicted: "Evaluations of the
communication appropriateness 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. Male applicants were rated slightly
higher in CA (M = 3.67) than female applicants (M = 3.54).
However, this difference was not statistically significant
(t = -.49, df = 415, p< .62). For RA, male applicants were
again rated higher (M = 5.80) than female applicants (M =
5.64). The difference was not statistically significant (t
= -.55, df = 411, p< .58). Hypothesis 3 failed to receive
statistical support.
Research question three asked: "Do evaluations of the
communication appropriateness of applicants differ on the
basis of sex of respondent, level of bragging, and/or the

95
interaction of these variables with each other and/or with
sex of applicant?" For Conversational Appropriateness (CA),
a three-factor ANOVA revealed a main effect for level of
bragging only (F = 35.01, df = 2,405, p< .001). There were
no significant interaction effects. See Table 15.
Table 15
Analysis of Variance for Conversational Appropriateness
Source of Variation
SS
df
MS
F
Sex of Applicant (SA)
3.21
1
3.21
.48
Level of Bragging (B)
446.87
2
223.43
35.01*
Sex of Respondent (SR)
9.08
1
9.08
1.42
SA x B
1.33
2
.66
. 10
SA x SR
.01
1
.01
.00
B x SR
2.58
2
1.29
.20
SA x B x SR
13.66
2
6.83
1.07
Error
2584.29
405
6.38
*p< .001
Follow-up t-tests indicated that the mean differences
among all three levels of bragging were statistically
significant for CA. Specifically, LLB resulted in higher
evaluations of CA (M = 4.81) than did MLB (M = 3.83). LLB
also resulted in higher evaluations of CA (M = 4.81) than
did HLB (M = 2.27). In each case, the difference was
statistically significant. In addition, the difference in
means for MLB (M = 3.83) and HLB (M = 2.27) was
statistically significant. Table 16 details the effects of

levels of bragging on evaluations of conversational
appropriateness.
96
Table 16
Effect of Level of Braaaina
on Conversational
Appropriateness
Level of Bragging
M
t
df
E
LLB
4.81
3.02
272
.003
MLB
3.83
LLB
4.81
8.67
248
.001
HLB
2.27
MLB
3.83
5.40
272
.001
HLB
2.27
For Relational Appropriateness (RA), a three-factor
ANOVA revealed a main effect for level of bragging (F =
60.84, df = 2,404, p< .001). There were no significant
interaction effects. Table 17 details the results of the
analysis of variance.
Follow-up t-tests indicated that the mean differences
among all three levels of bragging were statistically
significant for RA. Specifically, LLB resulted in higher
evaluations of RA (M = 7.48) than did MLB (M = 5.90). LLB
also resulted in higher evaluations of RA (M = 7.48) than
did HLB (M = 3.93). In addition, the difference between
means for MLB (M = 5.90) and HLB (M = 3.93) was

97
Table 17
Analysis of Variance for Relational Appropriateness
Source of Variation
SS
df
MS
F
Sex of Applicant (SA)
5.19
1
5.19
.73
Level of Bragging (B)
861.93
2
430.96
60.84*
Sex of Respondent (SR)
2.03
1
2.03
.29
SA x B
9.29
2
4.64
.66
SA x SR
1.35
1
1.35
.19
B x SR
5.96
2
2.98
.42
SA x B x SR
3.02
2
1.51
.21
Error
2861.48
407
7.08
*P< .001
statistically significant. Table 18 details the effects of
levels of bragging on evaluations of relational
appropriateness.
Table 18
Effect of Level of Bragging on Relational Appropriateness
Level of Bragging
M
t
df
E
LLB
7.48
5.06
266
.001
MLB
5.90
LLB
7.48
11.83
266
.001
HLB
3.93
MLB
5.90
5.95
284
.001
HLB
3.93

98
Bragging and Communication Competence
Hypothesis four predicted: "Evaluations of
communication competence differ by level of bragging." A
priori contrasts specifying LSD (least-significant
difference) ranges were used for comparisons of all possible
pairs of levels of bragging. LLB resulted in higher
evaluations of communication competence (M = 22.44) than did
MLB (M = 20.52). This difference was statistically
significant. LLB also resulted in higher evaluations of
communication competence (M = 22.44) than did HLB (M =
14.82). The difference was also statistically significant.
In addition, the difference in means for MLB (M = 20.52) and
HLB (M =14.82) was statistically significant. Thus,
Hypothesis 4 received statistical support. Table 19 details
the results of testing Hypothesis 4.
Table 19
Effect of Level of
Bragging on
Evaluations
of Communication
Competence
Level of Bragging
Mean
t
df
E
LLB
22.44
-2.10
402
.04
MLB
20.52
LLB
22.44
i—H
cn
00
l
402
.001
HLB
14.82
MLB
20.52
-6.35
402
.001
HLB
14.82

99
Gender Differences in Probability of Hiring
Research question four asked: "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?" Based on a scale of 0-100%,
respondents were asked to indicate "the probability that you
would recommend hiring Steve (Susan)?" (See Appendix D for
the question as it appeared in the communication competence
scale.)
Results of a three-factor ANOVA revealed a main effect
for level of bragging and sex of respondent. There were no
significant interaction effects. See Table 20.
Table 20
Analysis of Variance for Probability of Hiring
Source of Variation
SS
df
MS
F
Sex of Applicant (SA)
471.60
1
471.60
.66
Level of Bragging (B)
15799.55
2
7899.77
10.97**
Sex of Respondent (SR)
3079.76
1
3079.76
4.27*
SA x B
965.18
2
482.59
.67
SA x SR
6.08
1
6.08
.01
B x SR
1036.53
2
518.26
.72
SA x B x SR
259.47
2
129.73
.18
Error
267132.83
371
720.03
**p< .001
*B< .05

100
Follow-up t-tests indicated that for the effect of sex of
respondent on probability of hiring, male respondents were
more likely to recommend hiring (M = 51.10) than were female
respondents (M = 45.31) (t = 2.07, df = 375, p< .039).
Follow-up t-tests for the effect of bragging on
probability of hiring indicated that the means for LLB (M =
52.64) and MLB (M = 53.04) (t = -.12, df = 242, p< .907) did
not differ. However the mean difference between probability
of hiring for LLB (M = 52.64) and HLB (M = 39.27) was
statistically significant (t = 3.92, df 240, p< .001), as
was the difference between MLB (M = 53.04) and HLB (M =
39.27) (t = 4.24, df = 263, p< .001).
Probability of Hiring, Communication Competence,
Communication Effectiveness, and Communication
Appropriateness
Research question five asked: "What are the
relationships between probability of hiring and (a)
communication competence, (b) communication effectiveness,
and (c) communication appropriateness?" The relationships
between probability of hiring and communication competence,
CE, Cl, CA, and RA were all positive and statistically
significant. Probability of hiring correlated with
communication competence at .64; CE at .63; Cl at .50; CA at
.57; and, RA at .34. All correlations were significant at
p< .001.

101
Communication Competence and Characteristics of the
Successful Job Applicant
Research question six asked: What are the
relationships among (a) communication competence, (b)
communication effectiveness, (c) communication
appropriateness and (d) 10 characteristics of the successful
job applicant? The relationships between four of the
"characteristics" and communication competence, CE, Cl, CA,
and RA were positive and statistically significant.
Specifically, Extra Curricular Activities correlated with
CE; GPA correlated with Cl; Communication Skills correlated
with CA; and Honors correlated with communication
competence, CE, and Cl. All significant correlations were
in a positive direction. Table 21 presents a matrix of
these correlations.
Post Hoc Analysis
A post hoc analysis was performed to determine the
possible influence of respondents' view of the importance of
communication skill in an employment interview on their
evaluations of communication competence. Based on a median
split for the score for "importance of communication skill,"
two groups ("high" and "low") were formed. The "high" group
consisted of respondents who rated "importance of
communication skill" greater than or equal to 90. The "low"
group consisted of those who rated "importance of
communication skill" less than the median of 90. Using

102
"communication skill" as an additional independent variable
with two levels, a four-factor ANOVA revealed a main effect
for level of bragging only (F = 3898.30, df = 2,360, p<
.001). There were no significant interaction effects.
Thus, respondents' perception of the significance of
communication skill in an employment interview did not
influence evaluations of communication competence. In fact,
only level of bragging resulted in significant differences.
Table 22 details the results of the analysis of variance.
Summary of Results
Hypotheses one through three which predicted that
evaluations of communication competence, communication
effectiveness, and communication appropriateness would
differ for male and female applicants were not supported.
The 2x2x3 ANOVAs for research questions one through
three identified a main effect for level of bragging.
Follow-up tests revealed a trend suggesting that higher
levels of bragging result in lower evaluations of
Conversational Effectiveness and Conversational
Ineffectiveness. Likewise, follow-up tests indicated that
higher levels of bragging result in lower evaluations of
Conversational Appropriateness and Relational
Appropriateness for all three levels of bragging.
Hypothesis four predicted that evaluations of overall
communication competence would differ by level of bragging.

103
Table 21
Pearson Product-Moment Correlations for Characteristics of
the Successful Job Applicant, Communication Competence,
Communication Effectiveness, and Communication
Appropriateness
ComCmp
CA
RA
CE
Cl
Extra Act.
.08
(p=.14)
.03
(P=-61)
-.01
(p=.90)
. 12
(p=.01)
.07
(p=.18)
Appearance
.04
(p=.43)
.03
(p=.55)
.05
(p=.35)
-.02
(p=.65)
.02
(p=.66)
Work Exper.
.05
(p=.29)
-.02
(p=.68)
.03
(p=.57)
.06
(p=.18)
.04
(p=.42)
GPA
.09
(p=.06)
.03
(p=.50)
.01
(p=.78)
.06
(p=.17)
. 11
(p=.02)
Comm. Skills
-.08
(p=•14)
-.13
(p=.01)
.00
(p=.98)
-.07
(P=•17)
-.04
(p=.39)
Self Conf.
-.03
(p=.55)
-.10
(p=.06)
T3
II •
h-* O
• o
o
-.05
(p=.25)
-.01
(p=.89)
Honors
.15
(p=.003)
.10
(p=.06)
.06
(p=.24)
. 14
(p=.004)
. 16
(p=.001)
Location
.05
(p=.35)
.00
(p=.97)
.04
(p=.43)
.02
(p=.64)
.03
(p=.62)
Modesty
.01
(p=.92)
-.03
(p=.59)
-.03
(p=.60)
.04
(p=.39)
.05
(p=.35)
Assertive
-.01
(p=.93)
.09
(p=.08)
.08
(p=.12)
.02
(p=.59)
-.04
(p=.38)
Note: Range
for n is 384
- 397.

104
Table 22
Post Hoc Analysis of Variance for Communication Competence
Source of Variation
SS
df
MS F
Sex of Applicant
(SA)
65.52
1
65.52
1.14
Level of Bragging
(B)
3898.30
2
1949.15
33.99
Sex of Respondent
(SR)
36.40
1
36.40
.64
Comm. Skill (CS)
134.40
1
134.40
2.34
SA x B
53.14
2
26.57
.46
SA x SR
1.76
1
1.76
.03
B x SR
13.25
2
6.63
. 12
CS x SA
6.71
1
6.17
. 12
CS x SR
.02
1
.02
.01
CS x B
188.70
2
94.35
1.65
SA x B x SR
256.71
2
128.35
2.24
SA x B x CS
141.25
2
70.62
1.23
B x SR x CS
40.03
2
20.01
.35
SA x SR x CS
68.89
1
68.89
1.20
SA x B x SR x CS
3.93
2
1.97
.03
Error
20642.48
360
57.34
*p< .001
This hypothesis was supported for all three levels of
bragging.
The 2x2x3 ANOVA for research question four revealed
a main effect for level of bragging and sex of respondent.
Follow-up tests revealed a trend indicating that higher
levels of bragging result in lower probability of a
recommendation that the applicant be hired. In addition,
follow-up tests indicated that male respondents were more
likely to recommend hiring, regardless of level of bragging,
than were female respondents.
Research question five related to correlations between
recommendation for hiring, communication competence,

105
communication effectiveness, and communication
appropriateness. The results indicated statistically
significant, positive correlations among all variables.
Research question six related to correlations between
communication competence, communication effectiveness,
communication appropriateness, and 10 characteristics of the
successful job applicant. Only four of the
"characteristics" indicated a statistically significant
correlation with the dependent variables. All of the
significant correlations were in a positive direction.
Chapter 5 presents a complete discussion of these
results.

CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION
Men and women performing the same or similar behavior
often are evaluated differently by both men and women. At
issue in the present study, was whether men and women who
demonstrate the same communication behavior in an initial
task-related context are evaluated similarly in terms of
communication competence, effectiveness, and
appropriateness. Specifically, this research sought to
investigate the influence of gender and bragging on
evaluations of communication competence, communication
effectiveness, communication appropriateness, and the
probability of recommending that a job applicant be hired.
This chapter provides an overview of the problem, methods
and results, and a discussion of insights gleaned from those
results. The chapter concludes with recommendations for
future research.
Overview of the Problem
Using gender-role theory as a basis for generating
hypotheses and research questions, the present study
analyzed evaluations by men and women of the communication
competence of other men and women engaging in the same
communicative behavior—bragging—in an initial task-related
106

107
interaction, the employment interview. 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 communication behavior where differential
evaluations occur. Previous 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 provided a framework from
which the influence of gender on evaluations of
communication competence, effectiveness, and appropriateness
could be assessed.
Gender Differences
Because extant literature suggests that women who brag
are evaluated less favorably than men who brag, this study
predicted that men and women who demonstrate the same
bragging behavior in an initial employment interview would
receive differential evaluations of communication
competence, effectiveness, and appropriateness.
Furthermore, previous research suggests that in the context
of an initial interaction, where information about social
roles is limited, more global stereotypes (e.g., gender
stereotypes) may affect interactions and judgments of those
interactions (Spence et al., 1985). Thus, it was predicted
that subjects would evaluate applicants on the basis of the
stereotype that bragging is more appropriate for men than

108
women. Because both men and women share the same
expectations regarding normative behaviors for men and
women, it was predicted that sex of respondent would not
influence evaluations of communication competence,
effectiveness, or appropriateness.
Communication Competence
Communication competence is defined as an individual'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 et al., 1993, p. 210).
Many scholars contend that "effectiveness" and
"appropriateness" are fundamental aspects of communication
competence and an individual must be both in an interaction
in order to be communicatively competence. "Effectiveness"
refers to the degree to which a communicator achieves his or
her personal goals in an interaction. "Appropriateness"
refers to the degree to which goals within an interaction
are achieved in a socially acceptable manner (Spitzberg &
Cupach, 1989). Communication competence has been related to
a host of social phenomena (e.g., academic success/failure,
loneliness, self-esteem). Of significance for this study,
is that communication competence also has been implicated in
occupational success or failure (Spitzberg & Brunner, 1989).
In most studies of gender and communication competence,
gender is not the focus of the research, but rather only one
of several variables being considered. In fact, gender

109
differences in evaluations of communication competence are
ignored in most studies. When gender is considered in
investigations of communication competence, differences
often are found. 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 adequately examined. In particular, there is a
dearth of research on evaluations of communication
competence in task-related interactions such as employment
interviews.
Employment Interviews
Employment interviews 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).
In employment interviews, male applicants generally tend to
be evaluated more favorably than equally qualified female
applicants (Arvey, 1979; Arvey & Campion, 1982).
As is typical in initial interactions, interviewers
often have little information about an applicant prior to
the interview itself (Hunt & Eadie, 1987). Consequently,
interviewers often rely on general impressions and behaviors
exhibited during the interview and stereotypes (e.g., gender
stereotypes) as a basis for employment decisions. Gender

110
stereotypes often place women at a disadvantage in hiring
decisions because of perceived incongruity between feminine
skills and masculine job requirements (Cohen & Buner, 1975).
Thus, the gender of an applicant may affect "expectations,
stereotypes, and behaviors of an interviewer which in turn
may affect the interview outcome" (Arvey & Campion, 1982, p.
282) .
The content of an applicant's communication during an
employment interview involves information relating to
technical expertise (Shaw, 1983), but also must include
positive self-statements (Clowers & Fraser, 1977; Gilmore &
Ferris, 1989). Bragging is one means by which a job
applicant can reveal his or her expertise and make self
enhancing statements. Although bragging does not enjoy
widespread social acceptance, it does appear to have some
benefits.
Bragging
Bragging has been shown to enhances 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) (Miller
et al., 1992; Schlenker & Leary, 1982). Consequently,
bragging is one communication strategy that interviewees may
use in an employment interview to demonstrate expertise.
However, women tend to be evaluated less favorably when they
brag than do men (Miller et al., 1992).

Ill
Based on their gender role, 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 ensure a competitive edge over other
applicants. In contrast, women are encouraged to be "other"
focused. Thus, the female applicant who is "other" focused
may be ineffective because she does not reveal enough
information about her achievements and qualifications. On
the other hand, if the female applicant brags about her
accomplishments, she may still be evaluated negatively
because her communication is incongruent with her gender
role. However, little is known about the influence of
bragging behavior on evaluations of communication competence
in the context of an initial employment interview.
Therefore, this study sought to investigate the influence of
bragging behaviors on evaluations of communication
competence in a task-related context and, in particular, how
those evaluations differ for men and women.
Methods and Results
This investigation examined the influence of gender and
bragging on evaluations of communication competence,
communication effectiveness, communication appropriateness,
and probability of recommending that an applicant be hired.
Three employment interview scenarios, with verbatim
transcripts, representing "High" (HLB), "Moderate" (MLB) or

112
"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 that they would recommend hiring the applicant.
A manipulation check revealed that the three levels of
bragging as manipulated in the study actually were perceived
differently and in the direction presumed by the
manipulation of the treatments. Specifically, the mean for
perceived level of bragging at LLB was lower than the mean
at MLB and HLB. In addition, the mean for level of bragging
at MLB was lower than that at HLB.
A principal components factor analysis with Kaiser
varimax rotation revealed four independent factors in the
adapted communication competence scale. They were labeled
Conversational Appropriateness (CA), Relational
Appropriateness (RA), Conversational Effectiveness (CE), and
Conversational Ineffectiveness (Cl). Cronbach's coefficient
alphas for the factors were .91 for CA, .86 for CE, .77 for
RA, and .73 for Cl. Coefficient alpha was .91 for the
complete communication competence scale.
Total variance accounted for by the four factors was
58.4%, with factors related to communication appropriateness
explaining far more of the variance (CA 39.3% and RA 4.4%)

113
than factors related to communication effectiveness (CE 9.7%
and Cl 5.0%). In addition, correlations among overall
communication competence and all four factors were positive
and statistically significant.
Evaluations of male and female job applicants' overall
communication competence, CA, RA, CE, and Cl, did not differ
by sex of applicant or sex of respondent. However,
evaluations did differ by level of bragging, as predicted.
HLB consistently resulted in statistically significant lower
evaluations of communication competence, CA, RA, CE, and Cl
than did LLB or MLB for both male and female job applicants.
The differences between means for evaluations of overall
communication competence, CA, and RA at all three levels of
bragging were statistically significant. The differences
between means for evaluations of CE and Cl were
statistically significant for MLB and HLB only. HLB also
resulted in a statistically significant lower probability of
recommending that the applicant be hired than did LLB or
MLB. In addition, males were more likely to recommend
hiring, regardless of level of bragging, than were female
respondents.
Results of this study suggest that evaluations of
communication competence in one task-related context (an
initial employment interview) are more strongly influenced
by the propriety of a specific communication behavior than
by gender stereotype. The hierarchial nature of the context

114
used in this study (an initial employment interview)
possibly triggers expectations of rather specific standards
of conduct on the part of the applicant, thereby making
global stereotypes less salient. That is, there may be
relatively more specific "rules" of conduct anticipated in
an initial employment interview, given the hierarchial
nature of the situation. The higher status interviewer may
expect the lower status job applicant to be particularly
conservative in behavior, including communication behavior
(e.g., no profanity or shouting). These findings provide
insights into conceptualizing communication competence, the
relationship between gender and task-related contexts,
bragging as a communication behavior, and the relationship
between gender and probability of recommending that a job
applicant be hired.
Conceptualizing Communication Competence
"Communication competence" is comprised of
"effectiveness" and "appropriateness." Communication
competence generally is defined as an individual's ability
to interact with others so that personal goals in the
interaction are achieved (i.e., effectiveness) in a manner
that does not violate the normative expectations of the
relationship or context (i.e., appropriateness).
A scale was developed to measure communication
competence in this study based on work by Spitzberg and
Canary (1985) and Canary and Spitzberg (1987). Factor

115
analysis of a similar scale by Canary and Spitzberg (1987)
revealed three factors which they labeled effectiveness,
general appropriateness, and specific appropriateness.
However, in the present study, four factors emerged. Two
factors were comprised primarily of items initially intended
to measure communication effectiveness. These two factors
were labeled conversational effectiveness and conversational
ineffectiveness. The remaining two factors were comprised
of items initially intended to measure communication
appropriateness and were labeled conversational
appropriateness and relational appropriateness. Together,
the emergence of these four factors suggests implications
for the conceptualization of communication competence. For
example, in an initial task-related context, effectiveness
appears to be multidimensional rather than unidimensional as
reported by Canary and Spitzberg (1987).
Effectiveness
Communication "effectiveness" is defined as the degree
to which a communicator accomplishes his or her personal
goals within an interaction (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1989).
Extant communication competence literature tends to
conceptualize "effectiveness" as unidimensional (e.g.,
Canary & Spitzberg, 1987; Wiemann, 1977) and focuses
primarily on successful goal achievement or task
accomplishment within an interaction.

116
In the present study, Conversational Effectiveness (CE)
included seven items that evaluate whether or not the
speaker accomplished his or her goal in the interaction
(e.g., "It was a rewarding conversation for Steve/Susan").
This factor is compatible with existing conceptualizations
of communication effectiveness. That is, the focus of the
factor is on the individual's accomplishment of his or her
personal goals within the conversation.
Conversational Ineffectiveness (Cl) was comprised of
three items that evaluated the level of ineffectiveness of
the conversation for the speaker (e.g., "The conversation
was unprofitable for Steve/Susan"). All three items in Cl
focused on negative behavior. Cl is less consistent with
existing conceptualizations of communication effectiveness
than is CE. Although the items focus on the outcome of the
conversation in terms of reaching goals, the measure is not
of "achievement" of those goals, but, rather, lack of
achievement. Extant communication competence literature
typically does not address the issue of failure to achieve
goals, i.e., incompetence, except in general terms of "not
being communicatively competent." Cl suggests that lack of
goal achievement, as well as actual achievement, may
influence evaluations of communication competence in an
initial task-related context.
At first glance, CE and Cl appear to measure the same
phenomenon and are simply worded positively versus

117
negatively. However, these two factors are not isomorphic.
The correlation between the two factors was .54, suggesting
that the two are relatively independent. Thus, CE and Cl
should not be viewed as opposite ends of a continuum. That
is, CE does not imply the absence of Cl and vice versa.
Results of the factor analysis reveal that, empirically,
Conversational Effectiveness is a condition independent of
Conversational Ineffectiveness. Thus, one can be evaluated
independently on the basis of both CE and Cl when engaged in
an interaction. For example, within the context of an
employment interview, an applicant's personal goals within
the interview might motivate him or her to communicate in a
manner which would be deemed "very suitable" but at the same
time the conversation would be judged "unprofitable."
In summary, consistent with extant literature related
to communication effectiveness, items on the two factors CE
and Cl relate to goal achievement or conversational outcome.
Previous investigations of communication effectiveness
suggest that "effectiveness" is unidimensional (Canary &
Spitzberg, 1987). However, in a task-related context such
as the one used in this study, effectiveness appears to be
evaluated on two dimensions rather than one. The
distinction between CE and Cl, however, is heuristic and not
bipolar. That is, CE and Cl are independent, rather than
isomorphic, factors and as such measure distinctly different
aspects of communication effectiveness.

118
Appropriateness
Communication "appropriateness" is defined as
communication that avoids violation of social (Canary &
Spitzberg, 1987; Larson et al., 1978) and relational norms
or expectations (Canary & Cupach, 1988). Although extant
conceptualizations of communication appropriateness refer to
both social and relational expectations, appropriateness
typically is measured as a unidimensional construct. In
fact, with the exception of Canary and Spitzberg (1987),
extant communication competence literature tends to
conceptualize "appropriateness" as unidimensional (e.g.,
Wiemann, 1977) .
In the present study, the factor Conversational
Appropriateness (CA) was comprised of eight items that
assess the suitability of the speaker's remarks to a
particular conversational situation (e.g., "Some of his/her
remarks were simply improper"). CA clearly refers to
individual behavior in an interaction and is consistent with
the contention that communication competence is inherently
an evaluation of an individual's behavior rather than a
skill or trait possessed by an individual (Roloff &
Kellermann, 1984). The CA factor in the present study taps
evaluations of individual behavior and is similar in scope
to what Canary and Spitzberg (1987) refer to as "specific
appropriateness." Both the CA and "specific
appropriateness" factors are concerned with individual

119
communication behaviors appropriate within the context of a
specific conversation.
In the present study, the factor Relational
Appropriateness (RA) was comprised of four 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."). Thus, RA moves beyond evaluation of the
individual communication behaviors of the speaker to address
how those behaviors influence the "relationship" between
speaker and receiver. RA is compatible with
conceptualizations of "communication competence" as
including "interpersonal" or "relational" competence
(Spitzberg & Cupach, 1989). That is, communication is
judged competent only within the context of a relational or
social system (Canary & Cupach, 1988; Wiemann & Kelly,
1981). Behaviors appropriate in one "relationship" are not
necessarily appropriate in another "relationship." For
example, bragging may be highly tolerated among close
friends, but evaluated less favorably when displayed within
an initial interaction such as an employment interview.
Thus, RA suggests that evaluation of another's communication
appropriateness is influenced not only by that individual's
particular communication behavior, as in CA, but also by the
effect that behavior has on the relationship as well. RA
indicates that in a task-related context, such as an
employment interview, the receiver monitors his or her

120
personal reaction to the communication behavior of the
speaker as well as the individual's performance.
According to Cann et al. (1981), interviewers are
highly influenced by initial impressions and tend to make
quick decisions based on those impressions. The existence
of an RA factor of communication competence suggests that
these first impressions and quick decisions may be based
partly on how the speaker's remarks make the interviewer
feel (e.g., embarrassed, uncomfortable). Prior
conceptualizations of communication competence appear to
focus on either individual behavior or relational
appropriateness, but not both. The findings presented here
suggest that future theory and research must consider both
individual and relational appropriateness in defining and
measuring communication competence. The correlation between
the two factors was .58, suggesting that the two are
relatively independent. Thus, based on the results of the
present factor analysis, both kinds of appropriateness
independently influence evaluations of communication
competence in a task-related initial interaction.
In summary, CA and RA clearly suggest evaluations based
on implied normative standards of individual and relational
behavior. That is, the factors relate to appropriateness on
both an individual and a relational level. Thus, in a task-
related context such as the one used in this study,
appropriateness appears to be evaluated on two dimensions

121
that differ from those suggested by Canary and Spitzberg
(1987).
Task-Related and Social Contexts
Communication Competence most often is conceptualized
as a concern in social and interpersonal communication
(Spitzberg & Cupach, 1989). Further, communication
competence most often is investigated within the context of
socially based relationships and interactions rather than
task-related interactions. Even when task-related contexts
form the context for investigations of communication
competence, attention rests primarily on the evaluations of
socially appropriate and effective individual communication
competence. Little, if any, serious attention has been
given to the possibility that the context itself, as much as
the individual or relational communication behaviors
displayed, contributes to evaluations of communication
competence. Extant literature implies that "communication
competence is communication competence" regardless of where
it is evaluated. In order to address the issue of context,
the results of two separate factor analyses of similar
communication competence scales, but completed in either a
task-related or socially relational context, will be
compared.
Based on the results of factor analysis of a scale
similar to the one used in the present study, Canary and
Spitzberg (1987) identified three independent factors in

122
communication competence. Specifically, Canary and Spitzberg
reported a single factor for effectiveness and two factors
for appropriateness. The factors identified by Canary and
Spitzberg differ in both scope and number from those
revealed in the present study. Specifically, the present
investigation revealed two factors for effectiveness and two
factors for appropriateness. Not only did the number of
factors found in the two studies differ, but the nature of
the particular items that met the criteria for factor
selection differed as well. Some of the differences between
these two sets of findings may be explained by examining the
items that did not meet the criteria for factor selection in
the present study.
In the present investigation, ten items on the initial
communication competence scale did not load on a factor. An
examination of these items reveals patterns of (a) social
expectations and (b) general effectiveness.
First, one set of items seems to be related to social
expectations (e.g., "He/she did not violate any of my
expectations in the conversation"). As Spitzberg and Cupach
(1989) suggest, social skills such as communication that is
in "good taste" or is "very proper," are important in
initiating and maintaining a person's social or
interpersonal network. Given that the context used in the
present study was task-related, rather than social, items

123
relating to social expectations may not be especially
relevant.
A second set of items appears to be quite general in
terms of evaluations of effectiveness (e.g., "Steve/Susan
was an ineffective conversationalist"). General
effectiveness, however, may be necessary for the negotiation
of ordinary everyday interactions and phatic communication
(i.e., contexts in which specific goals or expectations are
unclear). Therefore, "general" effectiveness may not be
particularly germane to a task-related context (such as the
employment interview), in which roles and expectations
within those roles are relatively clear (Ragan, 1983; Shaw,
1983).
The context examined by Canary and Spitzberg (1987) was
an interpersonal conflict with either a roommate or
boyfriend/girlfriend, as opposed to the task-related context
in the present study. The findings reported here, when
compared to those of Canary and Spitzberg, suggest that
evaluations of effective and appropriate communication in an
initial task-related context may differ empirically from
those in a socially based relationship. Consequently, not
only must context be considered in evaluations of
communication competence, but apparently context is
intrinsic to conceptualizing communication competence as
well.

124
Clearly defining communication competence is important
for future research. The findings of this investigation
suggest that context is the key to an accurate and complete
conceptualization of the construct. That is, evaluations of
communication competence appear to differ for communication
behavior in a task-related versus a socially-based
relational context. For example, communication
effectiveness, which traditionally has been conceptualized
as unidimensional in social interactions, appears to have
two dimensions in an initial task-related context. These
two dimensions allow measurement of both conversational
effectiveness (i.e., achievement of personal, idiosyncratic
goals) and conversational ineffectiveness (i.e., achievement
of more global goals).
Although communication appropriateness has been
conceptualized as consisting of two dimensions in socially
based interactions, the two dimensions found in the present
study differ from those found previously. Prior
investigations of socially-based interactions determined
that communication appropriateness could be conceptualized
as "specific" and "general." In contrast, the present study
suggests that in a task-related context, appropriateness
consists of "individual" and "relational" appropriateness.
Extant literature contends that it is axiomatic that
communication competence is "context specific." However,
communication competence is not being explicitly defined,

125
nor seriously taught, in accordance with that axiom.
Instead, of paying lip service to the importance of context,
future research efforts should be devoted to an
understanding of the influence of context as well as
communication behavior on evaluations of communication
competence.
Gender and Task-Related Contexts
The failure to find statistically significant
differences in the evaluations of communication competence,
effectiveness, or appropriateness for men and women job
applicants, suggests that men and women are not evaluated
differently when they brag in a task-related interaction.
Such a finding is contrary to extant literature in gender
and bragging. Gender-role theory suggests that men and
women performing the same or similar behavior, including
communication behaviors, often are evaluated differently by
both men and women (Eagly, 1987). Bragging is one such
communication behavior (Miller et al., 1992). Because
bragging is consistent with competitive, masculine behavior,
it is reasonable to assume that women who brag will be
evaluated less favorably than men who perform similar
bragging behavior. Such differences in evaluations are the
result of behavioral expectations based on men's and women's
disparate status in society.
The findings of the present study, however, are not
necessarily contradictory to gender-role theory. As Eagly explains,

126
The absence of counterstereotypic expectations based on
other social roles is also very important for obtaining
stereotypic sex differences, because in natural
settings, other social roles are often far more salient
and provide more explicit guides to behavior than
expectations based on gender. For example, in
employment settings, the role expectations associated
with one's job are very important determinants of one's
behavior, (p. 27)
Based on this caveat to gender-role theory, extant
literature on interviewing and status provides a clue as to
why men and women job applicants were evaluated similarly in
the present study.
The context used in the present investigation created a
second hierarchy that competed with gender as a hierarchy.
According to status characteristics theory, gender has two
states, male and female, that are evaluated differentially
in society (Berger, Fisek, Norman, & Zelditch, 1977).
Specifically, "males are valued more highly than females"
(Johnson, 1993, p. 195). Thus, gender constitutes a
hierarchy within society. Within the employment interview,
a competing hierarchy consists of interviewer and applicant,
with the interviewer most often maintaining a higher status
in the interaction than the applicant (Ragan, 1983; Shaw,
1983). In an interview, the higher status of the
interviewer is linked directly to the task at hand and has
been legitimated by others (Johnson, 1993). Thus, in the
present study, both male and female job applicants were in a
low status position within the interview context. Gender-
role theory predicts that when men and women occupy equal

127
positions within a hierarchy, evaluations of behavior should
be relatively similar. And, that is what occurred in this
study. Men and women, in equal positions of job applicant
(i.e., relatively low status), and who demonstrated similar
bragging behavior, received relatively similar evaluations
of communication competence. Although evaluations of
communication competence were not influenced by gender in
the present study, bragging did have an influence on those
evaluations.
Bragging and Task-Related Contexts
Bragging is not looked upon favorably by society in
general (Miller et al., 1992). Nevertheless, bragging has
been shown to enhance one's rating of general competence
(Miller et al., 1992; Schlenker & Leary, 1982). However,
little is known empirically about how bragging affects
communication interactions (Miller et al., 1992).
In the present study, bragging was consistently and
strongly more influential in evaluations of communication
competence, effectiveness, and appropriateness than any
other variable. This suggests that evaluations of
communication competence in a task-related context where a
socially undesirable communication behavior such as bragging
is displayed, are influenced more by norms of individual and
relational appropriateness than norms of gender appropriate
behavior.

128
In an initial task-related interaction such as the one
used in this study, bragging on either a low, moderate, or
high level may be viewed as differentially appropriate. As
noted earlier, initial impressions influence employment
interview decisions and, apparently, evaluations of
communication competence as well. In this study,
respondents had no information about the "applicant" (e.g.,
resume, letter of recommendation), other than initial
impressions, that might serve to ameliorate an initial
negative response to the bragging behavior. Given that
impressions are formed early in any initial interaction
(Zunin & Zunin, 1972), being communicatively appropriate
(e.g., adhering to conventional social and relational rules
of decorum) may be more important in initial task-related
encounters than being communicatively effective (i.e., being
persuasive, appearing "successful"). Being communicatively
effective in initial task-related interactions is important,
but the results of the present study suggests that unless a
job applicant is individually and relationally appropriate
as well, he or she may never get the chance to "get the
job." That is, level of bragging also appears to influence
the probability of recommending that an applicant be hired.
Probability of Recommending Applicant Be Hired
The relationships between probability of recommending
than a job applicant be hired and judgments of communication
competence, effectiveness, and appropriateness were all

129
positive and statistically significant. This finding is
consistent with prior research which contends that
communication is an important aspect of the successful
employment interview. Important in this study is that a
particular theoretical perspective (communication
competence), rather than a particular communication "skill"
(e.g., listening, eye contact) was correlated with
probability of a recommendation to hire. The findings of
this study indicate that evaluations of communication
effectiveness and appropriateness in task-related contexts
differ from those involving a social relationship. An
important task, then, for the potential job applicant, is to
familiarize him- or herself with the situational standards
unique to an initial employment interview.
An unexpected main effect for sex of respondent was
found for probability of a recommendation to hire. Male
respondents overall were more likely to recommend hiring
than were female respondents, regardless of level of
bragging. Work by McLaughlin et al. (1985) suggest that
when "planning" a boast, men are more likely to boast in
response to questions, thereby demonstrating the agentic
behavior associated with men's gender role. In contrast,
women attempt to manage conversation in a way that leaves an
opening for the boast. The bragging episodes in this study
were boasts offered in response to a question—a
communication behavior apparently more familiar to men than

130
to women. Given that bragging appears to be more socially
acceptable for men than women, bragging also may be more
accepted by men in general than women, and particularly when
it is in response to a question.
Despite the numerous implications of the present study,
the investigation also has some limitations. The next
section will discuss the major limitations to these
findings.
Limitations of the Present Investigation
Several factors contributed to the limitations of this
investigation. For example, the use of written scenarios
rather than face-to-face stimuli may have influenced the
results, particularly in terms of making gender of applicant
salient. Face-to-face simulated employment interviews with
same-sex and mixed-sex dyads would make gender visible. An
additional benefit derived from face-to-face interactions is
that respondents could evaluate their own level of
effectiveness, rather than the unknown goal achievement of
another speaker.
A second limitation of this study involves the way
"effectiveness" was measured. Respondents' were asked to
evaluate the goal achievement of another individual.
Because respondents did not necessarily know what the
applicant's goal was, evaluations of "effectiveness" may
have been difficult. As Spitzberg (1993) states, in

131
general, effectiveness is "idiosyncratic to one's private
objectives" (p. 3).
Future Research in Communication Competence
The failure of the present study to report
statistically significant differences in evaluations of men
and women does not imply that gender research in
communication competence should be abandoned. Because
bragging is, in general, a socially undesirable behavior,
the gender of the person who brags may be less important
than the bragging behavior itself. For example, in this
study, the influence of bragging on evaluations of
communication competence was far greater any other variable.
Differences in the means for evaluations of overall
communication competence, Conversational Appropriateness,
and Relational Appropriateness were statistically
significant at all three levels of bragging. Differences in
the means for evaluations of Conversational Effectiveness
(CE) and Conversational Ineffectiveness (Cl) were
statistically significant for moderate and high level
bragging. The only comparisons which were not statistically
significant were the differences in means for evaluations of
CE and Cl at low and moderate levels of bragging. These
findings suggest that the particular communication behavior
selected for this study (bragging) may have contributed to
the failure to find gender differences. That is, bragging
possibly represents one violation of the relatively

132
conservative conduct that a higher status interviewer may
expect from a lower status job applicant, regardless of the
applicant's gender. Therefore, future research should
consider the use of communication behaviors less socially
offensive than bragging, yet tend to result in differential
evaluations of men and women (e.g., direct and indirect
communication styles).
In other investigations of gender and communication
competence, some researchers have found gender differences
in task-related contexts (e.g., Reiser & Troost, 1986; Smith
& DeWine, 1991). Other researchers investigating
interpersonal contexts have not found gender differences
(e.g., Spitzberg & Hunt, 1987). Neither Reiser and Troost
(1986), Smith and DeWine (1991), nor Spitzberg and Hunt
(1987) used the same communication competence scale in their
studies. Yet another scale was used in this investigation.
Thus, different communication competence scales appear to
produce different results when examining gender differences.
Given the vast array of published scales purported to
measure communication competence (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1989),
the particular instrument selected may influence findings of
gender difference. Therefore, two or more different
communication competence scales should be used in a single
investigation of communication competence. If two or more
independent instruments produce similar results regarding
gender differences, then the researcher can be more

133
confident in estimating the influence of gender on
evaluations of communication competence.
Whether future research confirms the results of this
study, in which no statistical differences in evaluations of
men and women were found, or prior research in which
statistical differences were found, all will serve to make
explicit a previously little noted condition: the influence
of gender in evaluations of communication competence. If
communication competence continues to be touted as a valid
assessment of communication literacy (Larson et al., 1978)
the influence of variables (e.g., gender) other than
"communication skills" (e.g., listening) on evaluations of
communication competence must be understood.

APPENDIX A
HIGH BRAGGING SCENARIO
Please be assured that your participation in this study
is completely voluntary, and your responses are
confidential. At no time is your name associated with the
questionnaire and we will perform statistical analyses only
on the basis of the combined responses of all study
participants. Also be assured that participation does not
influence your grade in this class in any way.
The focus of this study is employment interviews. The
study asks you to pretend that you are the interviewer in
the situation we describe. It is EXTREMELY important that
you take the role you are assigned seriously. Use your
powers of imagination to portray the role of interviewer.
Situation
As a student at the University of Florida, you are currently
involved in a summer internship for college credit at a
local company. It is the position of management at this
company, that interns should experience all aspects of work
that an employee might expect. Consequently, you have been
asked to interview several applicants for a position with
the company.
The applicant, Susan (Steve) Carson, is in your office.
This is the first time you have met Susan (Steve). You have
been chatting with Susan (Steve) for a few minutes and have
now asked her (him) to tell you what she (he) considers her
(his) most important achievement while in college. Susan
(Steve) responds as follows:
Susan (Steve) pauses briefly and says, "My department had
its annual awards dinner last week. I had my best year
ever, so I was in a great mood. The department gave me the
Most Outstanding Graduating Senior award. But that was no
surprise since I have maintained the highest GPA among
seniors all year. Actually, I'm the best all-round student
the department has had in a long time."
Susan (Steve) hesitates a moment and then continues, "I
could have my choice of graduate schools, but I prefer to
gain some practical experience before earning a graduate
degree."
134

APPENDIX B
MODERATE BRAGGING SCENARIO
Please be assured that your participation in this study
is completely voluntary, and your responses are
confidential. At no time is your name associated with the
questionnaire and we will perform statistical analyses only
on the basis of the combined responses of all study
participants. Also be assured that participation does not
influence your grade in this class in any way.
The focus of this study is employment interviews. The
study asks you to pretend that you are the interviewer in
the situation we describe. It is EXTREMELY important that
you take the role you are assigned seriously. Use your
powers of imagination to portray the role of interviewer.
Situation
As a student at the University of Florida, you are currently
involved in a summer internship for college credit at a
local company. It is the position of management at this
company, that interns should experience all aspects of work
that an employee might expect. Consequently, you have been
asked to interview several applicants for a position with
the company.
The applicant, Susan (Steve) Carson, is in your office.
This is the first time you have met Susan (Steve). You have
been chatting with Susan (Steve) for a few minutes and have
now asked her (him) to tell you what she (he) considers her
(his) most important achievement while in college. Susan
(Steve) responds as follows:
Susan (Steve) pauses briefly and says, "My department had
its annual awards dinner last week. Everyone in my
department had a good year, so everyone was in a great mood.
The department gave me the Most Outstanding Graduating
Senior award. Was I surprised!"
Susan (Steve) hesitates a moment and continues, "But I have
maintained the highest GPA among seniors all year and am the
best all-round student the department has had in a long
time. I was really pleased to get the award and the
recognition."
135

APPENDIX C
LOW BRAGGING SCENARIO
Please be assured that your participation in this study
is completely voluntary, and your responses are
confidential. At no time is your name associated with the
questionnaire and we will perform statistical analyses only
on the basis of the combined responses of all study
participants. Also be assured that participation does not
influence your grade in this class in any way.
The focus of this study is employment interviews. The
study asks you to pretend that you are the interviewer in
the situation we describe. It is EXTREMELY important that
you take the role you are assigned seriously. Use your
powers of imagination to portray the role of interviewer.
Situation
As a student at the University of Florida, you are currently
involved in a summer internship for college credit at a
local company. It is the position of management at this
company, that interns should experience all aspects of work
that an employee might expect. Consequently, you have been
asked to interview several applicants for a position with
the company.
The applicant, Susan (Steve) Carson, is in your office.
This is the first time you have met Susan (Steve). You have
been chatting with Susan (Steve) for a few minutes and have
now asked her (him) to tell you what she (he) considers her
(his) most important achievement while in college. Susan
(Steve) responds as follows:
Susan (Steve) pauses briefly and says, "My department had
its annual awards dinner last week. Everyone in my
department had a good year, so everyone was in a great mood.
The department gave me the Most Outstanding Graduating
Senior award. Was I surprised!"
Susan (Steve) hesitates a moment and then continues, "I
worked really hard this year, but had some fun as well. So
I was really pleased to get the award and the recognition.
I was glad to contribute to the department."
136

APPENDIX D
MEASURES OF COMMUNICATION COMPETENCE
AND PROBABILITY OF HIRING
The following are statements about the communication
behaviors of Susan (Steve). On a scale from 0 to 100%,
please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree
with each statement. If you do not agree at all with the
statement, then put 0. If the degree to which you agree or
disagree with the statement falls somewhere between 0 and
100, then use any number that best indicates your level of
agreement.
1.It was a useless conversation for Susan/Steve. %
2. The WAY she/he said some of her/his remarks %
was unsuitable.
3. Everything she/he said was appropriate. %
4.She/he was a smooth conversationalist. %
5. The conversation was unprofitable for %
Susan/Steve.
6. Susan/Steve was effective in the conversation. %
7. The conversation was very unrewarding for %
Susan/Steve.
8. She/he did not violate any of my expectations %
in the conversation.
9. Susan/Steve achieved everything she/he %
hoped to achieve in the conversation.
10.Occasionally, her/his statements made me %
feel uncomfortable.
137

138
11. Susan/Steve was an ineffective %
conversationalist.
12. The conversation was very beneficial for %
Susan/Steve.
13. I was comfortable throughout the conversation %
with her/his remarks.
14. She/he said some things that were simply %
the incorrect things to say.
15. She/he said some things that should not %
have been said.
16. The things she/he spoke about were all in %
good taste as far as I'm concerned.
17. She/he said several things that seemed out %
of place in the conversation.
18. Some of her/his remarks were simply improper. %
19. Her/his conversation was very suitable to %
the situation.
20. The conversation was unsuccessful for %
Susan/Steve.
21. I was embarrassed at times by her/his remarks. %
22. The conversation went pretty much the way %
Susan/Steve wanted.
23. None of her/his remarks were embarrassing to me. %
24. At least one of her/his remarks was rude. %
25. Some of her/his remarks were inappropriate. %
26. It was an advantageous conversation for %
Susan/Steve.
27. It was a rewarding conversation for Susan/Steve. %
28. Her/his communication was very proper. %
29. Some of the things she/he said were in bad taste. %
30. Susan/Steve got what she/he wanted out of %
the conversation.

139
31. Some of the things she/he said were awkward. %
32. The conversation was very useful and helpful %
for Susan/Steve.
You must make a recommendation to your supervisor
regarding hiring Susan/Steve. Using the same
0-100% scale, what is the probability that you would
recommend hiring Steve/Susan? %

APPENDIX E
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SUCCESSFUL JOB APPLICANT
Below is a list of applicant qualities that interviewers
consider in an employment interview. On a scale from
0 to 100%, please indicate how important YOU believe each
quality is to a successful employment interview. If you do
not think the quality is important at all in a job
interview, then put 0. If the importance of the quality
falls somewhere between 0 and 100, then use any number that
best indicates your opinion.
0 100
Not Important At All Completely Important
Extracurricular Activities %
Appearance
Work Experience
Grade Point Average
Communication Skills
Self-Confidence
Honors Received
Location Preference
Modesty
Assertiveness
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
140

APPENDIX F
DEMOGRAPHIC QUESTIONS AND MANIPULATION CHECK
Please provide the following information about yourself:
1.
Sex:
(1) Male
(2)
Female
2 .
Age:
Years
3.
Year
in School: (1)
Freshman
(2)
Sophomore
(3)
Junior
(4)
Senior
4. How much did Steve/Susan, the interviewee in the
scenario, brag?
0123456789
Low High
141

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Nelya Jane McKenzie, daughter of Francis Farish and
Irma Elizabeth (Gunn) McKenzie, was born July 28, 1948 in
Montgomery, Alabama. She attended public schools in Alabama
and received the degree Bachelor of Science (secondary
education) from Auburn University June 1970. After
graduation, she served as a caseworker and court service
worker for the State of Georgia from 1971 to 1976. She
entered the Graduate School, Auburn University, in 1976 and
received the degree Master of Arts in speech communication
August 1978. After receiving her MA degree, she worked in
business in various capacities until 1990 when she became an
instructor at Auburn University at Montgomery. In 1991 she
entered the Graduate School, University of Florida, and
received the degree Doctor of Philosophy August 1994.
153

I certify that I have read this study and that in my
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as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Rebecca J. Cliii
é, Chair
Associate Professor of Communication
Processes and Disorders
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
/ f.ííiWVUV/
J.Clark/
(ÉjjJ-—
Anthony
Associate Professor of Communication
Processes and Disorders
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
rsr-iord
Rebecta S
Assistant
Ford
Professor
of Sociology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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Professor of Journalism and
Communications

I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Donald E. Williams
Professor of Communication
Processes and Disorders
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty
of the Department of Communication Processes and Disorders
in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the
Graduate School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of
the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
August 1994
Dean, Graduate School

LO
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. M/57
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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