Beatty, McCroskey and Heisel’s (1998) communibiological paradigm says that communication apprehension (CA) comes from people’s genetics. People are born with CA and it does not develop after birth. Students often show signs of CA in instructional settings. The paradigm explains that the environment students are in does not create communication apprehension. The environment that students are in produces stimuli, which the students react to (Beatty, McCroskey & Heisel, 1998). This causes CA in students. Beatty, McCroskey and Heisel argue nature wins in the fight of nature vs. nurture.
Beatty, McCroskey and Heisel’s (1998) claim nature is the cause of CA in students. From a biological perspective it is evident that genetics create peoples’ personalities. People who have parents whom have CA often inherit it. Since the authors claim CA is genetic they say it is impossible to eliminate it. They argue we should not try to change the behaviors of people with CA, but instead try to teach people how to cope with it (Beatty, McCroskey & Heisel, 1998).
Weaknesses in the model include the contradiction this article started by going against everything past articles on CA have talked about. Past articles claim that CA is environmental. CA can change in a person depending on their environment. Ayres, Wilcox, & Ayres’ (1995) study showed that students develop high apprehension when they are put into situations that require high demand, high evaluation, and high motivation. The students did not have the apprehension prior to these situations but instead developed them when they were put into these environments. Dobos’ (1996) article claimed that students should be given the choice of what type of learning environment they want to work in to reduce their CA. This implies students CA will be higher or lower in different environments; therefore the students should be given the chance to choose which environment they are the most comfortable in. Dwyer’s (1998) article found that women with high CA prefer to work in analytical environments where they could observe because this makes them feel more comfortable. On the other hand the women with low CA prefer to work in environments where there is more risk taking and trial and error can occur (Dwyer, 1998). Both high and low CA students in Dwyer’s (1998) study had different environments they preferred to work in because they felt it made their CA lower. Most studies on apprehension claim that CA is environmental. Beatty, McCroskey & Heisel (1998) claim just the opposite. They do not have any past studies that support their claims to back them up.
Positive reinforcement of the findings in Beatty, McCroskey and Heisel’s (1998) study came at a later time when Kelly and Keaten did a study in 2000. Their study showed that students get CA from their genetics but it can be helped. They recommend schools offer classes for students to take to ease their high CA (Kelly & Keaten, 2000). Kelly and Keaten (2000) agree that CA cannot be eliminated, but there are ways for people to lower their high CA.
Traditional studies on CA claim intervention strategies such as systematic desensitization, cognitive restructuring and skill development help to eliminate CA in students. Studies like Behnke and Sawyer’s (2004) study say that students should practice intervention strategies before speaking to eliminate their CA. Ayres’ (1996) study claimed if high CA students prepared properly for their speeches they would not have CA. These studies claim CA can be completely eliminated through the use of intervention strategies. The communibiological paradigm fits in with these intervention strategies because the paradigm agrees they should be used to help people cope with their high CA, but it does not say it will end their CA completely. The paradigm differs because it claims that these intervention strategies will not end the CA because it is a genetic problem. This paradigm shows these intervention strategies will help the people cope with their behaviors, but the strategies will not change the behaviors themselves (Beatty, McCroskey, & Heisel, 1998).
Future research could examine CA in people over their lifespan. CA could be studied in children at a young age (before they go to school), while they attend school, and after they reach adulthood. CA patterns in these people could help provide evidence about CA coming from genetics or the environment. A child that does not have CA at a young age and develops CA later in life or a child that has CA and later in life it disappears, would both be a challenge to the communibiological paradigm. More research examining CA in students in different environments could also provide interesting clues regarding if CA is environmentally triggered. Students who have CA in certain environments and not in others could provide evidence that CA comes from different environments and not genetics.
The theory of communication reticence dates back to 1965 when Phillips did a wide range of studies over a decade on reticent students. Phillips believed reticent students keep quiet because they believe they will lose from speaking. They do not see a need to speak up in any given situation. Keaton and Kelly’s (2000) study found that reticent students do not speak because they would rather not talk and allow people to think they are a fool rather than speak up and prove to people they are a fool. Reticent students refuse to speak and CA students are afraid to speak. Reticent students believe they are not naturally good speakers and they cannot be taught how to speak well (Keaton & Kelley, 2000). Reticent students do not need professional help (Keaton & Kelley, 2000). A teacher can help the students by talking to them about their problems. Teachers can help by convincing the reticent student that they can be taught to be a good communicator.