Communication apprehension as temperamental expression: A communibiological paradigm

Michael J. Beatty, James C. McCroskey, Alan D. Heisel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Over the past two decades, a large amount of research focusing on correlates and consequences of communication apprehension has accumulated. Despite this massive research effort, few viable models of the development of the trait have been proffered. Also during the past twenty years, psychobiologists have made impressive strides toward the explanation of human behavior by identifying underlying neurological processes, especially in affective domains. In this essay, we propose a theory of communication apprehension, anchored in the trait-oriented work of psychobiology as articulated in the temperament literature. Drawing from the extensive work of both psychobiologists and communication apprehension researchers in our field, we contend that communication apprehension represents individuals' expression of inborn, biological functioning, which has been shown to be antecedent to social experience and, therefore, independent of social learning processes. In formulating our theoretical framework, we (1) present a temperament-based conceptualization of communication apprehension, (2) integrate neurologically-based temperament functions into three fundamental propositions based on communication apprehension research, and (3) discuss the implications of our theoretical position.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-219
Number of pages23
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Communibiology
  • Communication apprehension
  • Personality
  • Temperament
  • Traits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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