Public speaking procrastination as a correlate of public speaking communication apprehension and self‐perceived public speaking competence

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This article was downloaded by: [Ondokuz Mayis Universitesine]On: 09 November 2014, At: 23:53Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UKCommunication Research ReportsPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: speaking procrastination as a correlate ofpublic speaking communication apprehension andselfperceived public speaking competenceRalph R. Behnke a & Chris R. Sawyer ba Professor of Speech Communication , Texas Christian University , Fort Worth, Texasb Assistant Professor of Speech Communication , Texas Christian University , Fort Worth,TexasPublished online: 06 Jun 2009.To cite this article: Ralph R. Behnke & Chris R. Sawyer (1999) Public speaking procrastination as a correlate of publicspeaking communication apprehension and selfperceived public speaking competence, Communication Research Reports,16:1, 40-47, DOI: 10.1080/08824099909388699To link to this article: SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the Content) containedin the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of theContent. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon andshould be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable forany losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoeveror howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use ofthe Content.This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematicreproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in anyform to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Speaking Procrastination as a Correlate of Public SpeakingCommunication Apprehension and Self-Perceived Public SpeakingCompetenceRalph R. BehnkeTexas Christian UniversityChris R. SawyerTexas Christian UniversityIn the present study, the relationship between public speaking pro-crastination and communication apprehension, and the relationshipbetween public speaking procrastination and self-perceived publicspeaking competence were investigated. A significant, positive corre-lation was found between public speaking procrastination and com-munication apprehension. A significant, negative correlation was foundbetween public speaking procrastination and self-perceived publicspeaking competence. The implications of public speaking procrasti-nation for students and their instructors are discussed along with "anti-procrastination " pedagogical strategies.Researchers in communication apprehension and speech anxiety have long distin-guished between state and trait measures of these variables (Beatty & Behnke, 1980;Spielberger, 1966). Subjects' levels of trait communication anxiety commonly have beenfound to be correlated, at low-to-moderate levels, with performance anxiety during publicspeaking (Behnke & Beatty, 1981; Behnke, Carlile & Lamb, 1974). Consequently, trait mea-sures of apprehension and anxiety administered early in a course are capable of predictingat least some of the anxiety that speakers will report experiencing during their performances.As a result, special instructional methods and interventions can be used for speakers forwhom it is anticipated that unusually high levels of anxiety will be experienced whilespeaking (Robinson, 1997).Ralph R. Behnke (Ph.D., University of Kansas) is Professor of Speech Communication at TexasChristian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Chris R. Sawyer (Ph.D., University of North Texas) isAssistant Professor of Speech Communication at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.COMMUNICATION RESEARCH REPORTS, Volume 16, Number 1, pages 40-47Downloaded by [Ondokuz Mayis Universitesine] at 23:53 09 November 2014Commnication Apprehension and Procrastination - Page 41Trait anxiety levels combine with situational factors, such as size and composition ofthe audience (Neer, Hudson, & Warren, 1982), presence of a television camera (Bush, Bittner,& Brooks, 1972), and whether or not the assigned speech will be graded (Beatty, 1988; Beatty& Friedland, 1990), thereby further increasing speaker discomfort during speech perfor-mance. As a result, novice speakers will often seek to escape such threatening speakingsituations by inventing excuses for not participating or by becoming distracted by morepleasant and hence less fear arousing activities (McCroskey, 1984).The amount of time a speaker has to prepare and practice a presentation has also beenfound to be related to speech anxiety (Menzel & Carrell, 1994). Sometimes the available timefor preparation and practice is artificially curtailed because the speaker procrastinates ex-cessively until the available time for working on the speech is no longer sufficient for thetask.Avoidance of communication tasks, including preparation and rehearsal of speeches,has been linked to anticipatory anxiety (Beatty, 1987; McCroskey, 1982). Likewise, educa-tors often speculate that procrastination, such as delaying preparation for a speaking as-signment, contributes to low performance evaluations and high levels of public speakinganxiety. Although some evidence for this pedagogical assumption has been reported (Daly,Vangelisti, Neel, & Cavanaugh, 1989; Menzel, & Carrell, 1994), the underlying relationshipbetween communication anxiety and procrastination has not been fully explained. Thepurpose of the current study is twofold: to examine the relationship between communicationapprehension and procrastination and the relationship between procrastination and self-perceived communication competence in public speaking.PROCRASTINATION AND PUBLIC SPEAKINGTrait anxiety responses are produced by a process of Pavlovian conditioning in which aneutral stimulus, such as having a conversation or giving a speech, becomes associated withpunishment (Rolls, 1990). While negative reinforcement is primarily used by parents andteachers to suppress the errant social behaviors of children (Strongman, 1987), the anxiety itproduces becomes deeply rooted in the affective memory of humans (Sawyer & Behnke,1997). Since individuals do not receive the same level of punishment in each type of speak-ing situation, communication apprehension develops as a dynamic trait (Behnke & Sawyer,1998), that is, it varies in amplitude given the specificity with which negative reinforcementis interposed in a particular class of situations. Therefore, negative feelings about perfor-mance, such as those associated with receiving a low grade on a speech, may intensify thespeaker's level of communication apprehension for that situation. As a result, individualswill formulate routine coping strategies for managing specific anxiety-arousing situations.Gray (1982) identified two distinct anxiety coping strategies. When confronted by athreatening or novel stimulus, subjects often suppress motor responses while carefully moni-toring the situation in order to respond appropriately if signs of imminent danger develop.This phenomenon, called behavior inhibition, has been observed in classroom public speak-ing situations (Freeman, Sawyer, & Behnke, 1997). However, operating along side Gray's(1982) behavior inhibition construct is a more interactive strategy in which one either takesdecisive steps to engage the threat or actively avoids confronting it. Whereas behavior inhi-bition occurs during a stressful situation, behavior activation is often initiated well beforeactual contact. Whether the impending threat is avoidable or inevitable largely determinesthe extent to which one's coping strategy is effective.Downloaded by [Ondokuz Mayis Universitesine] at 23:53 09 November 2014Page 42 - Communication Research Reports/Fall 1999Examples of active avoidance are reflected in the speech preparation procedures ofanxious students. Daly, Vangelisti, Neel, and Cavanaugh (1989) found that anxious speak-ers often waste valuable preparation time complaining about the assignment or employingdilatory tactics such as selecting unfamiliar topics that take longer to prepare. Similarly,Ayres (1992) reports that students with high levels of communication apprehension havemore negative thoughts about the impending communication event and fewer task-relevantones. As a result, high communication apprehensives require substantially more prepara-tion time than their less anxious counterparts (Ayres & Robideaux-Maxwell, 1989).While reporting that students often fail to prepare adequately for classroom speakingsituations due to fear reactions to speech assignments, Menzel and Carrell (1994) concludethat:Future research should examine more closely the quality of time spent inpreparation. For example, did a student sit in the library thumbing throughmagazines, or did that same student do a methodical search for specificinformation on a specific topic? While both processes might yield the sameamount of time spent in "library research," they are likely to produce radi-cal differences in the speeches that follow (p. 24-25).Given appropriate communication-related skills, speakers need adequate time in order toproduce high quality speeches. The more time that is consumed by procrastination, theless is available for preparation and practice. At some critical point, there is no longerenough time to execute the complex behaviors necessary to construct and deliver a goodspeech. Consequently, these performances will be evaluated less favorably than those of aspeaker's more industrious peers.Since students have other, competing, interests (including pleasant ones), the problemappears to be one of attraction/avoidance. In other words, they are, at once, being put off byunpleasant tasks while being attracted to pleasant ones. Delaying preparation for perfor-mance activities has been linked with various affective, cognitive, and behavioral measuresof traits relevant to human communication, such as self-esteem (Solomon & Rothblum, 1984;Rothblum, Solomon, & Murakami, 1986). Ayres (1986) has proposed an inverse relationshipbetween self-efficacy and trait anxiety. Specifically, anxious speakers often perceive thatthey lack the ability necessary to meet audience expectations. In light of the preceding dis-cussion, anxious speakers procrastinate because they do not believe that they have therequisite skills to succeed in public speaking situations.Consequently, self-perceived communication competence is a likely contributor to theexpedience with which students prepare speeches. Richmond, McCroskey, and McCroskey(1989) report an inverse relationship between self-perceived communication competenceand communication apprehension. Academically at-risk students, those who have a greaterthan normal likelihood of attrition from educational programs and courses, are higher incommunication apprehension and lower in self-perceived communication competence thannational norms (Cheseboro, McCroskey, Atwater, & Barenfuss, 1992). Conversely, academi-cally gifted students, those who tend to persist and achieve excellence in the academy, arelower in communication apprehension and higher in self-perceived communication compe-tence than national averages. Students who perceive that they lack sufficient skill to success-fully perform a classroom speech will often actively evade participating in these assign-ments. A commonly heard excuse for not speaking on the prescribed day is "I'm sorry. I'mDownloaded by [Ondokuz Mayis Universitesine] at 23:53 09 November 2014Commnication Apprehension and Procrastination - Page 43not prepared." As Phillips (1984) observes, a student who expects to perform poorly in aspeaking situation is often unwilling to communicate with others. Therefore, the tendency todelay preparation is affected by the perception of one's own communication competence.While the relationship between communication apprehension and self-perceived com-munication competence has been established, it is important to determine the extent to whichthese variables are related to public speaking procrastination.Consequently, the following hypotheses are advanced:HI: There is a significant, positive correlation between public speaking procrastinationand public speaking communication apprehension.H2: There is a significant, negative correlation between public speaking procrastinationand self-perceived public speaking competence.METHODSubjectsParticipants in the present study were 73 students (37 males, 36 females) enrolled in acollege-level introductory speech communication performance course. Fifty-five were intheir freshman year and eighteen were sophomores. They ranged from 18 to 25 years of agewith an average age of 20.5.ProceduresAll participants presented five-minute informative speeches to audiences of their peersin a normal classroom setting. Eighteen-to-twenty audience members served in each group.The administration of self-report scales for pedagogical purposes, were routine instruc-tional procedures in the course and participants were so informed.InstrumentationThe procrastination variable was operationalized as scores on the Tuckman Procrasti-nation Scale, an instrument commonly used to measure student procrastination on class-room assignments with an established record of validity and reliability (Tuckman, 1991). Inthis study, the items on the scale referred to procrastination about working on public speeches(For example, "I postpone starting on a speech I don't like to do." and "I waste time whenpreparing to speak but I can't seem to do anything about it."). In the present study, this scaleyielded an alpha reliability of .90.Trait communication apprehension was measured by the public speaking sub-scale ofMcCroskey's Personal Report of Communication Apprehension (PRCA) a well-establishedmeasure of communication apprehension in the speech communication discipline (Beatty,& Behnke, 1980; Beatty, & Andriate, 1985; Lustig, & Andersen 1990). Alpha reliability for thePRCA (Public Speaking Sub-scale) was .85.Communication competence was measured by the public speaking sub-scale ofMcCroskey's (McCroskey & McCroskey, 1988) Self-Perceived Communication CompetenceScale (SPCC). The SPCC has demonstrated acceptable levels of reliability in previous empiri-cal studies (McCroskey & McCroskey, 1988). Alpha reliabilitiy for the SPCC (Public Speak-ing Sub-Scale) was .89Downloaded by [Ondokuz Mayis Universitesine] at 23:53 09 November 2014Page 44 - Communication Research Reports/Fall 1999RESULTSMeans and standard deviations for trait procrastination, public speaking trait anxiety,and self-perceived public speaking competence were, respectively, 38.45(7.34), 19.45(4.67),and 71.61(12.63).Hypothesis 1, that a significant positive correlation exists between trait public speakingcommunication apprehension scores and speech trait procrastination scores, was supported.That relationship, tested by a Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient, produced thefollowing results: r= .7, =.49, df=71, pCommnication Apprehension and Procrastination - Page 45REFERENCESAyres, J. (1986). Perceptions of speaking ability: An explanation of stage fright.Communication Education, 35, 275-287.Ayres, J. (1992). 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