Tucker, Charles O.||Larson, Charles U.
M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of Speech Communication
This study investigated the nature of the term "understanding" to provide the term with a clear and more specific meaning, thus making it a more useful term for communication and communication research. An operational definition was provided: understanding occurs when, given a series of sentences representing a concept in its several dimensions or contexts, receivers can identify the sentences that the communicator(s) would agree or disagree to being representative of the communicator's position. A measuring device called the "measure of understanding" was developed from the operational definition. It was used to measure the degree of understanding that had occurred within subjects following two tape-recorded messages about a controversial concept. One hundred twenty-eight Speech 100 students served as subjects. The subjects filled out the "measure of understanding" and a "credibility measuring instrument" as if they were the speakers. The resulting data were used to investigate the following research questions: Does a difference exist between the speaker's beliefs about one concept and the manifest content of a message about those beliefs? A difference did exist between the speakers' content and their beliefs. 2. Are some communicators more understandable than others? The two communicators used in this study were found to differ in their ability to be understood. Possible reasons for the difference are discussed. 3. Is there a difference among receivers' abilities to understand a communicator? A difference existed among subjects. Those subjects who had high understanding scores for one speaker also tended to have high scores for the other speaker. 4. If a difference does exist, is it a function of the sex of the receiver, the receiver's prior attitude about the concept, or the order of communicated messages? An analysis of variance revealed no significant systematic variance that could be attributed to these three variables. Some significant interaction did occur. 5. Is understanding a function of the receiver's perception of the speaker's self-concept? In other words, do receivers better understand a communicator that they perceive as having a high self-concept? Contradictory results left this question unanswered. Initial investigation of "stereotyping" was started in an attempt to answer a post hoc analysis research question: In a communication what behavior will receivers exhibit when they have no perception of the communicator? Results demonstrated that subjects tended to fit each speaker into a polarized position. An operational definition of stereotyping was suggested.
Hamm, Russell E., "An investigation of the concept of understanding" (1971). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 1374.
vi, 79 pages
Northern Illinois University
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