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DoD Joint Course in Communication                    Class 02-A

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Analyzing Credibility:  A Study Examining
Demographic Factors and Personality Traits
that Influence Military Public Affairs' Credibility


Mitch Chandran

Laura DeFrancisco

Stuart Fugler

Eric Sesit





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       Credibility is a characteristic of a person who is perceived by others to be a trusted advisor, believable, and confident by exhibiting a high level of expertise in a certain subject.  The most important aspect to credibility is that it is an attributed variable.  This characteristic can be considered a communication-based variable since it is the outcome of certain communication behavior, whether analyzed in an interpersonal or organizational setting.  There are many aspects to credibility that have been studied in social science research.  This study looks at how certain demographic factors and adaptive trait behaviors can positively or negatively manipulate an individual’s credibility when that individual is a newcomer to the organization.  This study examines is the interaction between the new Public Affairs Officer (PAO) serving his first tour and his new command staff.
       With Likert-type surveys, this study proposes assessing the self-reported levels of three trait-like behaviors of the new PAO.  We view these traits as influential behaviors associated with high credibility.  Specifically, we questioned how certain trait-like behaviors such as communication competency, assertiveness, and interaction involvement affect a person’s perceived credibility and whether demographic factors affect PAOs’ credibility as they enter public affairs within their respective service branches.  Realizing this study’s findings could be highly speculative and there are possibly many other factors which could influence credibility, we feel the findings based upon these conceptualized variables will introduce a novel approach toward helping new PAOs better understand the complex dynamics of credibility.

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       Most military Public Affairs Officers (PAOs) would agree they are in a challenging profession.  One of the first challenges they experience is reporting to their first duty assignment and dealing with the relational uncertainty between themselves and other unit members.  PAOs must also establish their credibility within the command structure in order to effectively do their job.  Schweiger (2000) defines credibility as an attributed variable given to a communicator from a receiver, based upon that receiver’s internal perception of the communicator.  The receiver’s (unit member) perception can be negatively or positively influenced depending on certain trait-like behaviors the communicator (PAO) exhibits.  Likewise, the communicator’s known background (years of experience in service branch or public affairs) can also sway a receiver’s perception which can ultimately influence the level of credibility organizational members will attribute to the newcomer.
       The direction of this study focuses on the underlying elements of credibility that new PAOs may or may not recognize.  Personality-driven or trait-like behaviors, recognized as universally positive for a professional communicator, can be construed as important factors when deciphering a communicator’s credibility.  Demographic factors, such as experience and training, may also affect credibility.  What are some common personality traits and demographic characteristics that every PAO needs to be credibly perceived as the new command public affairs spokesperson? 
       The first aspect of this study collects demographic information, such as years of service and education level, in order to analyze its possible correlation to credibility.  Each service accesses its PAOs differently based on service-unique criteria which affect the PAOs different demographic factors.  Can a causal relationship be identified between accession and credibility?  Additionally, the nature of military culture which revolves around training, is an important aspect which contributes to an individual’s credibility.  Every military service member must complete a certain level of training per occupational specialty.  The Defense Information School (DINFOS) provides the required training for all military PAOs by teaching basic public affairs principles.  Armed with DINFOS training, PAOs should have the necessary skills to perform as credible communication practitioners.   
       We chose, from many options, to study three common personality-based variables – communication competency, assertiveness, and interaction involvement.  These trait behaviors are “assumed to be consistent across contexts and specific situations within particular contexts…one’s behavior regarding a trait is expected not to vary greatly from one situation to the next” (Infante, Rancer, & Womack, 1997, p. 106).  These hypothetical constructs were chosen because we feel they are the most applicable to PAO credibility.
       Our method includes three surveys to assess self-reported levels of each behavioral variable as perceived by the new PAO regardless of service.  We posit the survey results can be compared to the next element of the study, an assessment of the commander’s perception of PAO credibility.  All surveys include information regarding experience and training to analyze the demographic aspect of the study.

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Statement of Problem

       Whether in peacetime or during conflict, PAOs provide timely and accurate information to their respective service members, military families, and the American public.  As the commander’s spokesperson, the PAO should be considered a knowledgeable, credible, and competent staff officer who understands his unit’s strategic and tactical goals and knows how and when to communicate those goals to internal and external audiences.  Unfortunately, PAOs often find themselves having to prove their communication competencies and knowledge before they are seen as credible by their peers and senior leadership.  Without this credibility, PAOs are not considered equal partners in the command’s planning and operation efforts and subsequently cannot perform their mission—“telling the command story.”
       Since it is the PAO’s responsibility to be truthful about command issues which generate media interest, they often face a credibility issue spawned by an organizational hesitancy to publicly release information which may be construed as negative or damaging to the command.  However, just as commanders trust their personnel and administrative officers with personnel issues or aviators with unit aircraft, commanders must be able to entrust their PAOs to effectively collect, interpret, and disseminate information.  Without an open communication system between the command and the PAO, entropy inevitably increases, resulting in an ineffective public affairs program.  
       From the PAO’s perspective, nothing is more important than gaining a sense of credibility and developing an open system of organizational communication between the PAO and command staff.  The question posed is why some PAOs have a harder time fostering this positive relationship than others.  Do certain behavioral traits or demographic variables contribute to the problem?  For example, could certain trait-like behaviors, such as the PAO’s and or the commander’s dogmatic perception of true credibility, inhibit a new PAO’s ability to be perceived as credible, especially when first being introduced into the unit?  Could the PAO accession program directly influence the perceived level of credibility the command will initially bestow on their PAO? 
       This study looks at credibility as an important communication-based variable since it greatly influences other communication behaviors in organizational contexts.  With increased perception of credibility comes more effective communication, justifying the basis of this study.  We are not claiming these factors are exhaustive.  Instead we explore the possibility that our selected variables directly affect perceived credibility.

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Conceptual Orientation

       Demographically, this analysis looks at how PAOs are accessed into and trained in the public affairs vocation.  Understanding the importance of credibility in the public affairs profession, it is intriguing that each service branch acquires their PAOs differently.  For example, Marine Corps and Air Force PAOs are predominately accessed at the junior officer grade while all Army and Navy PAOs transfer into public affairs after working in other fields of their service branch.  The differences among the services can be categorized as generalists (Army and Navy) or specialists (Marine Corps and Air Force).  Generalists have a broad, basic understanding of the military and usually have at least two years of experience in their service while the specialists do not have the direct service experience.
The mission of military public affairs is to keep the American people and the military informed and to help establish the conditions that lead to confidence in America’s military and its readiness to conduct operations in peacetime, conflict and war.  Even though military PAOs have the same mission, each service conducts public affairs from a service-unique perspective.  The following conceptualization will explain the different accession programs for each service.

Demographic Factors

Army Perspective

       Public Affairs is considered a “functional area” in the U.S. Army as opposed to a branch.  A branch is a grouping of officers that comprises an arm or service of the Army in which officers are commissioned, assigned, developed, and promoted throughout their company grade years (through Captain, or O-3).  Officers are accessed into and will hold a single branch designation until the fifth or sixth year of service (DA PAM 600-3, 1998).  At that time, they are augmented with a functional area, such as public affairs.  They continue to wear their branch insignia throughout their career.
       A functional area is a grouping of officers by technical specialty or skill, which usually requiring significant education, training, and experience.  Officers are designated into a functional area based on a number of criteria including individual preference, academic background (including type of civilian degree and grade point average), manner of performance, training and experience, and needs of the Army.  Public Affairs Officers are tactically proficient as a result of successful branch qualification in a basic branch (something other than public affairs, such as Infantry or Military Intelligence).  This “grounding in the operational Army is vital to success and credibility as a Public Affairs officer” (DA PAM 600-3, 1998, p. 244).  This process develops PAOs with five or more years of experience of Army corporate knowledge.

Navy Perspective

       New navy PAOs must have extensive corporate knowledge before applying to laterally transfer into the community. Based on the fact that Navy PAOs “must be able to understand complex Navy issues, break them down, and communicate their details to a given audience” (Bupers Web Site), the Navy only takes officers into the PAO community who have successfully proven their corporate abilities in other disciplines.
             The typical selectee has between two and six years of commissioned service, has an excellent record,
                    is warfare qualified and is career motivated. Some have experience as collateral-duty PAOs or
                    possess an educational background in mass communication, journalism or a related field (Bupers Web Site).
An important aspect of the selection process is the candidate’s warfare qualification which refers to an officer’s proficiency in another naval discipline.  For naval officers to become warfare qualified, they must progress through a rigorous and lengthy qualification process demonstrating their expertise in their chosen community.  The warfare pin, worn prominently on the officer’s uniform, is a visual demonstration of excellence and lends instant credibility to the wearer as an expert in corporate knowledge.  Although candidates must have extensive corporate knowledge, selection boards for new Navy PAOs, more often than not, choose candidates who have already proven themselves in a public affairs capacity as a collateral duty PAO, or perhaps possess a degree in communications or journalism, demonstrating that discipline knowledge coupled with corporate knowledge is the true factor for success in the Navy’s accession program.
       Navy PAOs attend DINFOS for basic public affairs training.  Initial assignments for Navy PAOs are chosen carefully, with the most proficient personnel assigned to the most difficult jobs.  It should be noted that although Navy PAOs are expected to be ready to perform their jobs once they arrive in the Fleet, they have a strong support structure in place throughout the world that is basically a secondary, public affairs chain of command that can assist the junior PAO.

Marine Corps Perspective

        The accession of Marine Corps PAOs begins at the company grade level upon completion of Officer Candidate School (OCS) and The Basic School (TBS).  During a mandatory, 26-week course of instruction at TBS, newly commissioned second Lieutenant gain a wide variety of knowledge about the Marine Corps (with a focus on Infantry) and are evaluated in areas such as leadership, military skills, academics, and physical fitness.  The Basic School instruction ensures young Marine Corps officers have the cognitive ability to perform as basic infantry platoon commanders in the Fleet Marine Force, no matter what other occupational specialty the Marine focuses on during his career.  A TBS student’s overall grade-point standing at the end of the course helps determine the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) they receive. After graduating TBS, students move on to their MOS schools and then out to the fleet, taking with them the valuable lessons learned at TBS.  The Basic School is an experience common to all Marine Corps officers.
       During MOS selection, instructors do not require specific educational or experiential prerequisites for any field, including public affairs.  Officers with some type of communication background or training are favored when screening for PAO billets.  The PAO community at large is approximately 140 officers in strength. Therefore, in order to satisfy the sufficient numbers needed at the junior officer level, an average of 12 new second lieutenants are introduced into the field every year.  The final test these lieutenants must pass in order to confirm their status as new public affairs professionals is to successfully complete the 9-week PAO course at DINFOS.
       Another way the Marine Corps accesses new PAOs is through MOS transfer programs. In order to fill the remaining public affairs junior-officer requirements, predominately 0-3 billets, Marine officers from other occupational specialties are allowed to transfer from other communities, such as motor transport or artillery.  This program is an effective tool to help senior company-grade officers learn a new job which ultimately enhances their military career. 

Air Force Perspective


       The Air Force accesses from 25 to 35 PAOs per year. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of accessions are U.S. Air Force Academy graduates. About 70 to 80 percent come from Reserve Officer Training Corps with the remaining 10 percent from Officer Training School. All officers start as a deputy chief of public affairs at the wing level and after three to four years progress to chief positions.
       While serving as a deputy chief of public affairs, the officers spends their time under the guidance of the PAO.  The officer learns the technical part of being a PAO.  The officer receives DINFOS training during this tenure if he or she hasn’t already received it prior to this first assignment.  The officer also receives on-the-job training and mentorship during this period as well.
       "Across the range of military operations, public affairs enhances a commander's ability to accomplish the mission successfully" (PA Doctrine, 1999, p.7).  During every phase of contingency operations, public affairs should be represented on the information operation team. The synergistic relationship between the PAO and the commander is an integral attribute to a unit's strategic planning and daily operations and success.|
       There are no specific degree requirements for officers to enter the public affairs career. It is desirable for a candidate to possess a public communications, communicative arts, journalism, public relations, advertising, sociology, or social psychology degree.  Public affairs officers are assigned to nearly every location and every level of command.

Coast Guard Perspective

       For the purposes of this study, we did not look at the Coast Guard PAO accession program.  Due to the low numbers of designated Coast Guard PAOs, we feel the data collected would be infinitesimal for our study. 


       While previous education is considered before placing a candidate into public affairs, the services do not require a degree in communication, journalism, or a related field.  Placement into public affairs is based on candidate request, the needs of the service at that time and the recommendation of instructors and supervisors either in early military training or work experience.  The only public affairs training officers receive is available at DINFOS.
       The Public Affairs Officer Coarse at DINFOS is an eight week, three day course at Fort Meade, Maryland, which instructs the following:  theory, concepts, policies and principles of community relations within the military environment; public affairs communication; speech and research; basic journalism and broadcasting; service-specific instruction towards public affairs; public affairs responsibilities that apply to the unified and specified military command; media relations; on-camera training; and requirements and concepts the public affairs officer needs in a theatre of war (DINFOS, 2001).

Personality Traits

       The personality aspect of this study focuses on three behavioral; communication competency, assertiveness, and interaction involvement.  Of the many communication traits necessary to be an adept communicator, we feel that these three were the most vital to a young PAO in regards to credibility.

Communication Competency

       Competence is an adaptation trait which has received much attention by communication researchers (Infante et al., 1997).   Wiemann (1977) defines the competent communicator as:
                    Other-oriented to the extent that he is open (available) to receive messages from others, does not provoke
                    anxiety in others by exhibiting anxiety himself, is empathic, has a large enough behavioral repertoire to allow
                    him to meet the demands of changing situations, and finally, is supportive of the faces and lines his fellow
                    interactants present (p. 197).
       Wiemann (1977) also contends that competence is not only other-oriented but the communicator is able to successfully complete his own communication goals and make his point in a given situation.  This self and other interaction allows for the communicator to choose from a variety of behaviors to achieve his or her goals while still maintaining the other’s input in the conversation without damaging the relationship.
       Monge, Bachman, Dillard, and Eisenberg (1983) took Weimann’s (1977) study further by separating competence into two correlating factors – encoding and decoding.  This refinement of the early definition of competence allows for this study to focus this concept on organizational contexts and make it appropriate for research in the workplace (Monge et al., 1983). Communication competency, as compared to other personality traits associated with ability, appears to be one of the most tangible behavior characteristics.

Communication Assertiveness

       Assertiveness can be described as a “person’s general tendency to be interpersonally dominant, ascendant and forceful” (Infante et al., 1997, p. 127).  In their research, Lorr and More (1980) found four distinct aspects of assertiveness; directiveness, social assertiveness, defense of rights and interests and independence (Infante et al., 1997).
       Directiveness entails how willing people are to step up and insert themselves into a leadership position or “take charge in group situations and seeking positions where one can influence others” (Infante et al., 1997, p. 127).  Social assertiveness describes how well a person can interact with others, how willing they are to initiate conversations, and their ability to interact with strangers on a social or business level.  Defense of rights and interests basically describes the ability of an individual to stand up for their own rights or to confront people who might be infringing upon their own or others’ views.  Finally, independence is the ability of an individual to stand firm in their beliefs even when they might be in the minority (Infante et al., 1997).
       Assertiveness is viewed as a constructive trait.  To be truly effective within an organization, an individual should be able to positively state their position on a subject without infringing on the ideas and thoughts of others who hold opposing viewpoints.  The ability to express strongly held viewpoints without attacking another’s is crucial to credibility. 
       Brass and Burkhardt (1993) hypothesized that “use of assertiveness…will be positively related to perceptions of power” (p. 448).  They distributed surveys to 75 employees of a research company to explore the relationship between an employee’s structural position within a company and how that position relates to their use of power.  They concluded that structural position accompanied with certain behavioral traits, assertiveness included, has an effect on other employee’s perception of an individual’s power (Brass & Burkhardt, 1993).

Interaction Involvement

        Interaction involvement can be defined as the “tendency to participate with another in conversation composed of three dimensions:  responsiveness, perceptiveness, and attentiveness” (Infante et al., 1997, p. 126).  “People who are higher in interaction involvement are generally viewed as more competent communicators.  Persons who are low in interaction involvement tend to be ‘removed’ from the situation” (Infante et al., 1997, p. 126).
                    Argyle (1972) presents an idea of social rules which are portrayed as:  Intricate and interlocking sequences,
                    which make social systems workable if the different participants play their parts properly.  The sequences are
                    like language in that they have rules of sequences, which people follow without awareness (p. 627).
       Cegala (1981) defines interaction involvement as the degree to which people are engaged, cognitively and behaviorally, in their conversations with others.  Many researchers have conceptualized interaction involvement and its attributing variables in interpersonal relationships, but few have provided extensive research in the area leading up to today’s explanations.
       The basis of interaction involvement during interpersonal communication is that a person is always consciously involved in all aspects of the communication process.  Cegala suggests an individual’s involvement, whether more or less, can take several possible directions during the course of any given interaction.  He assumes that competence consists of cognitive, affective, and performance components, and at the same time, correlates multiple levels of self esteem with interaction involvement (1984).
       The correlation between involvement and self esteem suggests that this relative certainty / uncertainty are fundamentally anchored in attitudes toward oneself. Overall, then, there is the strong suggestion that low interaction involvement is significantly related to negative affect that is anchored in low self esteem and anxiety (Cegala, 1984, p. 324).

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Rationale (Research Question)

       Researchers have studied the complex intricacies of credibility for decades.  Studies have focused on how the perceived credibility of an individual influences their effectiveness when using persuasive communication.  Studies have also looked at communicative, nonverbal behaviors, such as facial expressiveness, speaker’s posture and voice inflection to see how they influence credibility (Heath & Bryant, 2000).  Another complicated factor associated with credibility is that it constantly fluctuates with time.  It is not static during any communicative process or in any situational context.  For example, many news organizations may have been perceived as highly credible before the 2000 U.S. Presidential election.  After the election, the public’s perception of the media’s credibility may have drastically changed.  Moreover, this credibility issue seems to have even more relevance for the organizational or corporate spokesperson.    
       We suggest that most effective communication practitioners would agree there is no other personal characteristic more important than establishing and maintaining credibility.  From the American public’s perspective, there seems to be a higher expectation for military PAOs and other government information spokespersons to function as highly credible sources.  For example, despite several government public relations fiascos like the Nixon Administration’s decision to invade Cambodia or the Clinton Administration’s infidelity scandal, the press seems to place great reliance on government information for reporting public affairs issues.  This warrants academic research in trying to unravel which factors are associated with high credibility.   
       In this study we identified variables that seemingly have an impact on perceived credibility.  Demographically, we looked into each service branches’ PAO accession program in order to compare the demographic differences.  Research indicates that two branches (Army and Navy) insist their PAOs have at least two years of active duty experience before entering the public affairs field.  A study by Hurley and Fagenson-Eland (1997) looked extensively at the differences and advantages between employees that have X years of experience versus those with a breadth of experience. Their findings concluded that managers with a wide range of corporate knowledge had more successful careers, rising to top management positions faster than those that developed more specific line skills. Conversely, those managers who worked totally in a specific department or field were less likely to be promoted to top management positions.  “Organizations need to develop generalists.  These individuals should have core skills, flexibility and breadth of experience relevant to the company” (Hurley & Fagenson-Eland, 1997, p. 68).  Relating this information to our study we wondered if this insight was true for successful PAOs.  If so, why do some service branches (Marine Corps and Air Force) access many of their PAOs at the 0-1 (second lieutenant) grade level. 
       The differences in accession programs led us to question if public affairs training was an equally influential, source variable of credibility.  As discussed earlier, DINFOS is the primary school that most new PAOs attend sometime early in their career.  Regardless of the PAO’s background, the school’s mission is to teach the technical skills of communication.  Analyzing both of these factors from a systems perspective, the interaction between accession and training seemingly works to achieve the DoD’s end state or goal—develop qualified, technically-proficient service spokespersons and assimilate them into their respective public affairs communities.  Therefore the training factor seems to give the overall accession system an equifinal property.  However, what about credibility?  The question stems from the recognized complex accession system just discussed.  If achieving career success has been associated with a person acquiring a substantive amount corporate knowledge, perhaps the same is true when discussing credibility. 
       Recognizing the elusiveness of credibility and the importance PAOs place on establishing and maintaining it, we felt the need to define some traits unquestionably related to credibility.  Looking at Infante et al.’s (1997) categorization of trait approaches, we found three variables to analyze.  Under the grouping of adaptive traits, we feel these variables are common to most effective communicators.
       The first adaptive trait we conceptualized is communication “ability.”  A person’s ability to communicate effectively, in writing or verbally, is essential for communication practitioners.  PAOs, from their first day at DINFOS, learn to refine these communication skills.  These skills become their ‘tools of the trade.’  Any normal work day for a PAO includes writing press releases, editing the installation newspaper, or conducting on-camera interviews.  This leads us to believe that communication ability is a necessity rather than a luxury.  We conceptualize the idea of ability as a behavior trait labeled communication competency.
       The second personality trait we conceptualize is “confidence.”  Sometimes situations dictate a PAO’s need to confidently address their senior leadership concerning sensitive issues or situations.  This invaluable trait can help the command see certain issues from the public’s perspective.  Therefore, a PAO’s level of confidence is vital, especially when the command is dealing with a sensitive or damaging situation that can ultimately harm their public image.  For this study we associate confidence with the adaptive trait labeled assertiveness.  Assertiveness is a constructive trait that we advance as another essential trait for PAOs.
       The last adaptive trait we selected can be referred to as “communicative intuition.”  On a daily basis, PAOs deal with internal and external audiences, each having a unique personality.  Perhaps the real crux of this issue is the PAO’s willingness to accurately decode the audience’s messages before encoding an inappropriate response.  Also considered to be a highly adaptive trait, intuition will enable PAOs to assess the predominant feelings, emotions or beliefs of each audience.  Another defining term for this trait is “common sense.”  We associate this personality trait with interaction involvement.  Based on the above reasoning the following research questions are advanced:

RQ1:  What are the effects of the adaptive behavior traits—communication competence, assertiveness, and interaction involvement on a PAO’s credibility?

RQ2:  Is the number of years of military service correlated to credibility?

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Participants and Procedures

       Participants in the study will include newly accessed PAOs in all four services and their commanders.  Participants will be instructed to self-report their levels of communication competence, assertiveness, and interaction involvement at the six month mark of their first public affairs assignment.  Since this study involves officers reporting to their first duty station as PAOs, and only a limited number access the community each year, we propose a three-year study in order to accumulate valid and reliable results.  The surveys should be distributed to all new PAOs and their supervisors to obtain a large enough sample.  Surveys will be distributed through service branch public affairs career managers to ensure all new PAOs have the opportunity to participate in the study.  Along with the PAO surveys, supervisor surveys will be enclosed with instructions for completion.  This procedure should be employed while the PAO is in the early stages of relational uncertainty within the organization in order to capture the PAOs’ initial perceptions as they enter the new environment.  Participation in this study will be voluntary and anonymous.

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       To measure credibility, we use the McCroskey’s (1966) source credibility scale because it has been proven by many researchers to have face and criterion-related validity.  The article that first introduced this scale has been referenced at least 100 times in previous research.  This scale has been used to confirm presumed credible speakers will actually be perceived as credible (Rubin, 1981).  The format of the scale has emerged as the “predominant method of scaling” (Rubin, 1981, p. 335) credibility.
       The communicative competence scale created by Wiemann (1977) will be used to measure competence of the PAO.  This scale has been used in research numerous times and found to be effective with alphas between .85 and .91 (Rubin, 1981).  The specific scale used for the PAOs is an adapted self-report format employed by Cupach and Spitzberg (1983). 
       Many methods are available to test for assertiveness and assertiveness training is offered by many different organizations.  The World Wide Web offers thousands of self-administered assertiveness tests. For the purpose of this study, we are employing the Rathus (1973) Assertiveness Schedule which Lorr and More (1980) claim as “one of the better known self-report measures” (p. 128).
       Cegala’s (1981) scale measures the degree a person possesses for high or low interaction involvement.  Researchers use this scale today because of its track record of reliability and validity.  “Test-retest reliability for the trait Interaction Involvement Scale appears to be very good” (Rubin, 1981, p. 187).  Tests performed by Cegala et al. (1981) reported their test-retest with reliable alpha levels in the .80s.  Other tests by researchers reported test-retest results with alpha levels in the .60s.  “The Interaction Involvement Scale also appears to be internally consistent” (Rubin, 1981, p. 187).  Validity tests performed on this scale yielded evidence to concur strong validity.

Statistical Analysis

       Once the three year survey is complete, the data collected could be analyzed using one of two quantitative methods.  The first possible method is to perform an analysis of variance (ANOVA) on the results.  The other approach is multiple regression.
       The ANOVA can be used since this study examines at least two or more categorical independent variables, each with at least two levels (i.e. personality trait high and low levels).  This factoral design will analyze the participants’ self-reported results of the three trait independent variables which will be demonstrated by 2 x 2 x 2 = F (credibility).  A median will be found for each trait exposing the high and low levels of that trait.  This test will show the effect of each variable independently on the dependent variable and the interaction of the variables together.  A Pearson’s correlation will be run between each demographic variable and the dependent variable to examine the strength of the relationship between the variables.
       Table 1 is a factorial ANOVA visual demonstration of this credibility study.

Table 1.

First                             Second                        Third                            Fourth
Independent               Independent                 Independent               Independent
Variable                      Variable                       Variable                     Variable

Demographics:           Communication             Assertiveness:        Interaction
Years of service          Competency:                                                   Involvement:
Training                        Hi/Low                            Hi/Low                      Hi/Low

       Multiple regression could also be used to analyze the results.  Each subject will have an average score for each predictor variable (personality trait).  The three independent variables will be utilized to predict individual’s credibility levels.  Credibility results will be collected from the supervisor’s source-credibility survey.

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Projected Results

       Results from the credibility tests (competency, assertiveness, and interaction involvement) will probably reveal that military PAOs exhibit varying degrees of all three variables.  Since the characteristics tested are internal traits and not something necessarily taught and there is no measure of these traits prior to entrance into the public affairs field, we project there will be no conclusive evidence of high levels in any service.  It is possible that the Army and Navy may find higher levels of assertiveness because of those PAOs’ organizational experience which may have helped developed increased confidence and assertiveness.  Commanders may perceive their PAOs as credible based on the services’ view of the public affairs career field – Army and Navy PAOs will be higher ranking which in and of itself increases credibility while the Marine Corps and Air Force have public affairs as its own career field stressing the importance of the public affairs mission.  We project that high credibility perceived from commanders will correlate to high self-reported levels of the personality traits.

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       We feel the adaptive personality traits of communication competency, assertiveness, and interaction involvement are directly linked to credibility.  As the spokesperson for their command, establishing and maintaining credibility is vital to the success of a PAO.  We feel possessing these traits will help enhance the credibility of PAOs and ultimately the success of the mission of telling the service story. 
       We expect our study to reveal that new PAOs have no significantly high levels of these communicative traits.  We propose these tests be administered to prospective public affairs officers at the point when a service member requests selection into the public affairs field:  Army – at the fifth or sixth year of service when ready for their functional area; Navy – when requesting a lateral move into public affairs; Marine Corps – upon completion of The Basic School; Air Force – upon completion of ROTC.  Candidates who score high levels of these traits should be considered for public affairs.  Those who score low may be recommended for another career area.       A potential problem with this system is there may not be enough candidates requesting public affairs from which to choose.  If this becomes the case, alternate candidates should be considered.  But in an effort to help future PAOs establish credibility, showing the tendency toward these traits would be a start.  If the study reveals no correlation between the selected traits and credibility, future researchers may select other adaptive traits to study.

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Argyle, M. (1972). Review Essay, Review Author, Erving Goffman, Rules and Rituals of Everyday Life Relations in Public. Microstudies of the Public Order and Science, New Series, Vol. 176, No. 4035, pp. 627-628.

Brass, D., & Burkhardt, M. E. (1993).  Potential power and power use: An investigation of structure and behavior. Academy of Management Journal, 36(3), 441-470.

Cegala, D. J. (1981).  Interaction involvement:  A cognitive dimension of communicative competence, Communication Education, 30, 109-121.

Cegala, D. J. (1984).  Affective and cognitive manifestations of interaction involvement during unstructured and competitive interactions. Communications Monagram, 51, 320-335.

Cupach, W. R., & Spitzberg, B. H. (1983).  Trait versus state:  A comparison of dispositional and situational measures of interpersonal communication competence.  The Western Journal of Speech Communication, 47, 364-379.

Cutlip, S. M., & Center, A. H. (1971).  Effective Public Relations.  Englewood Cliffs, N.J.:  Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Defense Information School, (2001), 2002 Course Offerings, http://www.dinfos.osd.mil/course_info/fy2.asp

Department of the Air Force (1999).  Public Affairs Operations:  Air Force Doctrine Document 2-5.4. Joint Doctrine for Information Operations and JP 3-61, Doctrine for Public Affairs in Joint Operations.

Department of the Army (1998).  DA PAM 600-3.  Introduction to the officer career fields.

Department of the Navy Personnel Network Web Site, 2001. http://www.persnet.navy.mil/pers448/p448home.htm.

Heath, R. L., & Bryant, J. (2000).  Human communication theory and research:  Concepts, contexts, and challenges.  Mahwah, N.J.:  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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Infante, D., Rancer, A., & Womack, D., (1990). Building Communicatioin Theory. (3rd Ed.). Prospect Heights, Il.:  Waveland Press Inc.

Lorr, M., & More, W. (1980).  Four dimensions of assertiveness.  Multivariate Behavioral Research, 2, 127-138.

McCroskey, J. C. (1966).  Scales for the measurement of ethos.  Speech Monographs, 33, 65-72.

Monge, P. R., Bachman, S. G., Dillard, J. P., & Eisenberg, E. M. (1982).  Communicator competence in the workplace:  Model testing and scale development.  Communication Yearbook, 5, 505-528.

Rathus, S. (1973).  A 30-Item Schedule for Assessing Assertive Behavior, Behavior Therapy, 4, 398-406.

Rubin, R. B., Palmgreen, P., & Sypher, H. E. (Eds.). (1981). Communication research measures:  A sourcebook.  New York:  Guildford Press.

Scheiger, W. (2000).  Media credibility – experience or image?  A survey on the credibility of the world wide web in germany in comparison to other media.  European Journal of Communication, 15, 37-59.

Wiemann, J. M. (1977).  Explication and test of a model of communicative competence.  Human Communication Research, 3, 195-213.

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Appendix A

Source Credibility Scale—McCroskey:
12-Item Semantic Differential*

Instructions:  On the scales below, please indicate your feelings about _____________________.  Circle the number between the adjectives which best represents your feeling about_______________________.  Numbers “1” and “7” indicate a very strong feeling.  Numbers “2” and “5” indicate a fairly weak feeling.  Number “4” indicates you are undecided or do not understand the adjectives themselves.  Please work quickly.  There are no right or wrong answers. 


                        Reliable    1    2    3    4    5    6    7    Unreliable*
                  Uninformed    1    2    3    4    5    6    7    Informed
                  Unqualified     1   2    3    4    5    6    7     Qualified
                     Intelligent     1    2    3    4    5    6    7     Unintelligent*
                      Valuable     1    2    3    4    5    6    7     Worthless*
                       Inexpert      1    2    3    4    5    6    7     Expert


                       Honest      1    2    3    4    5    6    7     Dishonest*
                  Unfriendly      1    2    3    4    5    6    7     Friendly
                    Pleasant       1    2    3    4    5    6    7    Unpleasant*
                       Selfish       1    2    3    4    5    6    7     Unselfish
                         Awful       1    2    3    4    5    6    7      Nice
                    Virtuous       1    2    3    4    5    6    7      Sinful*

Note.  Items presented here grouped by dimension.  Users should randomly order the bipolar adjectives to avoid response set error variance.  Reverse scoring should be performed for items with asterisks. 


15-Item Semantic Differential**

Instructions:  On the scales below, pleas indicate your feelings about _____________________.  Circle the number between the adjectives which best represents your feeling about_______________________.  Numbers “1” and “7” indicate a very strong feeling.  Numbers “2” and “5” indicate a fairly weak feeling.  Number “4” indicates you are undecided or do not understand the adjectives themselves.  Please work quickly.  There are no right or wrong answers. 


               Good-natured     1    2    3    4    5    6    7     Irritable*
                         Cheerful    1    2    3    4    5    6    7     Gloomy*
                      Unfriendly    1    2    3    4    5    6    7      Friendly


                           Timid     1    2    3    4    5    6    7      Bold
                          Verbal     1    2    3    4    5    6    7     Quiet*
                      Talkative     1    2    3    4    5    6    7     Silent*


                         Expert      1    2    3    4    5     6    7    Inexpert*
               Unintelligent     1    2     3    4    5    6    7     Intelligent
                  Intellectual     1    2     3    4    5    6    7     Narrow*


                       Poised      1    2    3    4     5    6    7     Nervous*
                        Tense       1    2    3    4     5    6    7     Relaxed
                         Calm       1    2    3    4     5    6    7     Anxious*


                  Dishonest      1    2    3    4    5    6     7      Honest
          Unsympathetic      1    2    3    4    5    6     7      Sympathetic
                         Good       1    2    3    4    5    6     7      Bad*

Note.  Items presented here grouped by dimension.  Users should randomly order the bipolar adjectives to avoid response set error variance.  Reverse scoring should be performed for items with asterisks. 

* Copyright 1966 by the Speech Communication Association.  Reprinted by permission.

**Copyright 1974 by Sage Publications, Inc.  Reprinted by permission.

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Appendix B

Self-Rated Communicative Competence Scale 

Instructions:  Complete the following questionnaire/scale with yourself in mind.  Circle one of the sets of letters before each numbered questions based upon whether you strongly agree (SA), agree (A), are undecided or neutral (?), disagree (D), or strongly disagree (SD).  Always keep yourself in mind as you answer. 

Strongly                      Agree              Undecided                   Disagree                     Strongly
Agree                                                     or neutral                                                           disagree

    SA                              A                           ?                                     D                                SD 

1.      I find it easy to get along with others.
      I can adapt to changing situations.
      I treat people as individuals. 
      I interrupt others too much. 
      I am “rewarding” to talk to. 
      I can deal with others effectively.
      I am a good listener.
      My personal relations are cold and distant.
      I am easy to talk to.
  I won’t argue with someone just to prove I’m right.
  My conversation behavior is not “smooth.”
  I ignore other people’s feelings.
  I generally know how others feel.
  I let others know I understand them.
  I understand other people.
  I am relaxed and comfortable when speaking.
  I listen to what people say to me.
  I like to be close and personal with people.
  I generally know what type of behavior is appropriate in any given situation.
  I usually do not make unusual demands on my friends.
  I am an effective conversationalist.
  I am support of others.
  I do not mind meeting strangers.
  I can easily put myself in another person’s shoes.
  I pay attention to the conversation.
  I am generally relaxed when conversing with a new acquaintance.
  I am interested in what others have to say.
  I don’t follow the conversation very well.
  I enjoy social gatherings where I can meet new people.
  I am a likeable person.
  I am flexible.
  I am not afraid to speak with people in authority.
  People can come to me with their problems.
  I generally say the right thing at the right time.
  I like to use my voice and body expressively.
  I am sensitive to others’ needs of the moment.

Note:  Items 4, 8, 11, 12, and 28 are reverse-coded before summing the 36 items.  This has been modified for self-report.

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Appendix C

Rathus Assertiveness Schedule

Directions: Indicate how characteristic or descriptive each of the following statements is of you by using the code given below.

+3        very characteristic of me, extremely descriptivea
+2        rather characteristic of me, quite descriptive
+1        somewhat characteristic of me, slightly descriptive
-1         somewhat uncharacteristic of me, slightly nondescriptive
-2         rather uncharacteristic of me, quite nondescriptive
-3         very uncharacteristic of me, extremely nondescriptive

1. Most people seem to be more aggressive and assertive than I am.*
2. I have hesitated to make or accept dates because of “shyness.”*
3. When the food served at a restaurant is not done to my satisfaction, I complain about it to the waiter or waitress.
4. I am careful to avoid hurting other people’s feelings, even when I feel that I have been injured.*
5. If a salesman has gone to considerable trouble to show me merchandise which iis not quite suitable, I have a difficult time in saying “No.”*
6. When I am asked to do something, I insist upon knowing why.
7. There are times when I look for a good, vigorous argument.
8. I strive to get ahead as well as most people in my position.
9. To be honest, people often take advantage of me.*
10. I enjoy starting conversations with new acquaintances and strangers.
11. I often don’t know what to say to attractive persons of the opposite sex.*
12. I will hesitate to make phone calls to business establishments and institutions.*
13. I would rather apply for a job or for admission to a college by writing letters than by going through with personal interviews.*
14. I find it embarrassing to return merchandise.*
15. If a close and respected relative were annoying me, I would smother my feelings rather than express my annoyance.*
16. I have avoided asking questions for fear of sounding stupid.*
17. During an argument I am sometimes afraid that I will get so upset that I will shake all over.*
18. If a famed and respected lecturer makes a statement which I think is incorrect, I will have the audience hear my point of view as well.
19. I avoid arguing over prices with clerks and salesmen.*
20. When I have done something important or worthwhile, I manage to let others know about it.
21. I am open and frank about my feelings.
22. If someone has been spreading false and bad stories about me, I see him (her) as soon as possible to “have a talk” about it.
23. I often have a hard time saying “No,”*
24. I ten to bottle up my emotions rather than make a scene.*
25. I complain about poor service in a restaurant and elsewhere.
26. When I am given a compliment, I sometimes just don’t know what to say.*
27. If a couple near me in a theatre or at a lecture were conversing rather loudly, I would ask them to be quiet or to take their conversation elsewhere.
28. Anyone attempting to push ahead of me in a line is in for a good battle.
29. I am quick to express an opinion.
30. There are times when I just can’t say anything.*

a Total score obtained by adding numerical responses to each item, after changing the signs of reversed items.

* Reversed item.

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Appendix D

Interaction Involvement Scale

Number of Questions: 18                                Aprox .Time  Required to Complete:6 minutes 

Instructions:  This questionnaire is designed to provide information about how people communicate. There are no right or wrong answers to any of the items. You only need to indicate the extent to which you feel each item describes your own behavior.

In responding to some of the items, you might say, "sometimes I do that and sometimes I don't." You should respond to each item in a way that best describes your typical manner of communication -- how you behave in most situations. If you cannot decide how a particular item applies to you circle the "not sure" alternative. however, please be sure to respond to all of the items.

Choose one alternative for each item that best characterizes your communication in general by circling your response.

1. I am keenly aware of how others perceive me during my conversations.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

2. My mind wanders during conversations and I often miss parts of what is going on.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

3. Often in conversations I'm not sure what to say, I can't seam to find the appropriate lines.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

4. I am very observant of others' reactions while I'm speaking.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

5. During conversations I listen carefully to others and obtain as much information as I can.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

6. Often in conversations I'm not sure what my role is, I'm not sure how I'm expected to relate to  others.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

7. Often in conversations I will pretend to be listening, when in fact I was thinking of something else.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

8. Often during conversations I feel like I know what should be said (like accepting a compliment, or asking a question), but I hesitate to do so.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

9. Sometimes during conversations I'm not sure what the other really means or intends by certain comments.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

10. I carefully observe how the other is responding to me during a conversation.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

11. Often I feel withdrawn or distant during conversations.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

12. Often in conversations I'm not sure what others' needs are (e.g. a compliment, reassurance, etc.) until it is too late to respond appropriately.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

13. I feel confident during my conversations, I am sure of what to say and do.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

14. Often I'm preoccupied in my conversations and do not pay complete attention to others.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

15. Often I feel sort of "unplugged" during conversations, I am uncertain of my role, others' motives, and what is happening.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

16. In my conversations I often do not accurately perceive others' intentions or motivations.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

17. In conversations I am very perceptive to the meaning of my partner's behavior in relation to myself and the situation.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

18. Often during my conversation I can't think of what to say, I just don't react quickly enough.

Not at all          Somewhat           Not Sure            Somewhat             Like Me             Very Much
Like Me           Unlike Me                                       Like Me                                             Like Me

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