Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Gail E. Mason


Communication apprehension is something with which many students and people in general are faced when forced into an involuntary communication situation. Various treatments have been tested for coping with it. Imagined interaction and visualization, two cognitive processes associated with intrapersonal communication, were investigated in this study as interventions for lowering communication apprehension levels in introductory public speaking courses. One-hundred and fifty college students enrolled in introductory speech courses at Eastern Illinois University served as subjects and were assigned to one of four groups: a control group, a script visualization group, a performance visualization group, and an imagined interaction group.

The Personal Report for Communication Apprehension (PRCA) was administered to all groups one week before informative speeches were to begin. One class period prior to the speeches, all groups except the control group were exposed to the appropriate treatment. The two visualization groups were asked to picture themselves giving a speech confidently and successfully, one while being guided by a script, the other by watching a video. Subjects exposed to imagined interaction were instructed to imagine supportive conversations with peers and to have positive self-conversations. Subjects completed another PRCA-24 after delivering their speeches. At the end of the semester, about two months after being introduced to the respective interventions, subjects completed a survey allowing them the opportunity to share their perceptions of the treatment they received.

Statistical results revealed that none of the interventions reduced levels of apprehension to a significant degree. These results are incongruent with prior research and with the reports of these subjects. The qualitative data elicited from subjects revealed that a majority felt the interventions were helpful to a degree and were worth being introduced. Communication apprehension, because of its ubiquitous nature, is worth investigating in terms of coping strategies. Participants in this study indicated they feel that visualization and imagined interaction should be introduced in the classroom as such a means of coping.