Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

John Stevenson


The interaction of participant conceptual level and structure of groups teaching interpersonal communication was investigated. Additionally, a checklist measure attempting to operationalize positive, negative, and neutral aspects of communication skill was developed and applied to both a written response measure and Goodman's GAIT exercise. Sixty-six male and female college students enrolled in a personal development course were randomly assigned within blocks of high and low conceptual level (CL) to one of three experimental conditions: structured group, unstructured group, or control group interventions. Dependent variables of communication skill and satisfaction were examined. Little support was found for Hunt's matching-model interactional predictions. Structured group interventions taught the specific skills of paraphrasing and giving constructive feedback as measured by written responses better than did unstructured or control groups. Unstructured groups were rated as more enjoyable than structured or control groups. Structured groups were rated as more enjoyable than the control group, and structured and unstructured groups were rated equally useful by participants and both more so than the control group. High conceptual level subjects learned to produce more "therapeutic" listening responses as measured by Goodman's GAIT peer ratings and were more self-disclosing overall than were low CL subjects. Implications of these findings are discussed in terms of both structure of groups, construct validity of conceptual level, and measurement of communication skill.



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