Communication skills predictive of interpersonal acceptance among college students in a group living situation: A sociometric study
ABSTRACT This project investigated the contribution of communication skills to the maintenance of friendships among young adults living in fraternities and sororities. More specifically, three core research questions were pursued: (1) What communication skills predict interpersonal acceptance among young adults? (2)What communication skills do young adults value in their same-sex friends? and (3) What is the relationship between the communication skills people value in friends and those that actually predict success? In an effort to identify the skills most relevant to the maintenance of friendships, literatures on friendship conceptions and behaviors were examined. This review suggested eight skills as potentially important in the friendship relation. Four of these skills were "affectively oriented" (comforting, ego support, conflict management, and regulation) and four were "nonaffectively oriented" (narrative skill, referential skill, conversational skill, and persuasion). Direct assessments of individual differences in four of these skills (comforting, ego support, conflict management, and persuasion), sociometric information, evaluations of communicative abilities, measures of communicative competence and motivation, and correlates of acceptance were obtained from 208 subjects (102 males, 106 females) living in either fraternity or sorority houses. Weak and generally nonsignificant associations were observed between communication skills and indices of interpersonal acceptance. However, small, but statistically significant relationships were found between a lack of ability in conflict management and comforting and peer rejection. Students valued affectively oriented skills in friends more than nonaffectively oriented skills. Results also indicated that while the skills people valued did not predict peer acceptance, they did predict peer rejection. Subsidiary findings indicated that the motivation to communicate was an important predictor of communication skill, skill valuings, and peer acceptance. Implications of these findings were discussed.