NEW! (March 9, 2020): Data and support files are now available for downloading and analyses. Please look immediately below for the download links.

BACKGROUND – This research project supports the research component of Psi Beta’s mission: Professional development of students through engagement in research. This year’s topic is interpersonal communication and several measures of workplace skills self-efficacy.

Overview of Topic – This study focuses primarily on aspects of interpersonal communication.
Interpersonal communication competence is important for interacting with others at social gatherings and business networking events. It is the first step in making acquaintances and forming friendships. Employers expect college graduates, especially those holding a bachelor’s degree in psychology, to interact well with others in a variety of settings. APA’s Guidelines specify the ability to interact effectively with others (Outcome 4.3). Moreover, the APA’s Skillful Psychology Student includes employers’ expectations that psychology graduates will have strong active listening and conversational abilities in both informal and professional environments. Interpersonal communication consists of a set of smaller skills, some of which are being measured in this study (e.g., initiation, self-disclosure, empathy, social relaxation, alter-centrism, and interaction management, and conversational self-efficacy).
In addition to interpersonal communication, this study also includes measures of four employable skills: communication (writing, speaking, reading, listening), analytic inquiry (research, information literacy), collaboration (working in groups, leadership), and professional development (self-management, technology).


  • Subscales drawn from the Interpersonal Competence Questionnaire (ICQ) (Buhrmester, Furman, Wittenberg, & Reis, 1988) include Initiation (8 items), Disclosure (8 items).
  • Subscales are drawn from the Interpersonal Communication Competence Scale (ICCS) (Rubin & Martin, 1991): Self-disclosure (3 items), Empathy (3 items), Social Relaxation (3 items), Alter-centrism (3 items), and Interaction Management (3 items).
  • Subscales are drawn from the Interpersonal Communication Skills Instrument (unpublished, Irvine Valley College Psychology Department, 2018): Efficacy for Initiating Conversations (9 items), and Efficacy for Facilitating Balanced Two-way Conversations (6 items).
  • The entire Employable Skills Self-Efficacy Survey (Ciarocco & Strohmetz, 2018) which include these scales: Communication, Analytical Inquiry, Collaboration, and Professional Development.
  • Demographics: sex, ethnicity, year in college, first-generation college student status, college units earned, number and type of psychology courses completed, co-curricular involvement

Hypotheses – there are many possible hypotheses that can be tested. Below are just a few examples:

  • Compared to males, females will have a higher mean score on communication scales designed to measure empathy.
  • There will be a significant correlation between measures of Social Relationships and Efficacy for Initiating Conversations.
  • Participants who have completed more psychology courses will score higher on the measure of Analytic Inquiry.
  • Participants with higher levels of co-curricular involvement will score higher on Collaboration.


Institutional Review Board

  • Approval from Irvine Valley College – click here NOTE: Irvine Valley College’s IRB is registered with the federal Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) as Institutional Review Board (IRB # IRB00009084)


  • Data gathering begins – September 24, 2019
  • Data gathering ends – February 28, 2020
  • Data become available for analyses and write up –
    Early – January 6, 2020
    Final  – March 4, 2020 (the final download will include data from the early download AND data gathered between January 6 and February 28, 2020)

Link to the online questionnaire – CLICK HERE
NOTE: Have participants use this link to input their responses to the study questionnaire. Recent research experience has found that participants who complete on online questionnaire or survey in an un-proctored setting (e.g., home, Starbucks, etc.) tend to be more careless and distracted when responding to the questionnaire items, thereby diminishing the value of the study’s data. We recommended having participants report complete the online questionnaire in a proctored computer lab.

Digital copy of questionnaire – Click Here

References (source articles for measures, seed articles about interpersonal communication) – please see reference section below

Contact Info – Who to contact with questions about this year’s national study – Dr. Jerry Rudmann at or Dr. Katherine Wickes at

Resources – Psi Beta’s Giving Away Psychology (GAP) is a service-learning program includes a module on interpersonal communication (Part I). GAP is a program in which 3-4 person teams of Psi Beta students use resources Psi Beta provides to learn about and present 50-minute workshops to other students (e.g., high school and/or college classes). Part I will be released this spring (check under “Chapter Resources” for the support files and PowerPoint.


Interpersonal Communication Measurement Articles

Buhrmester, D., Furman, W., Wittenberg, M. T., & Reis, H. T. (1988). Interpersonal Competence
. Retrieved from PsycTESTS. Doi:

Ciarocco, N. J., & Strohmetz, D. B. (2018). The employable skills self-efficacy survey: An assessment of
skill confidence for psychology undergraduates. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology,
(1), 1-15. doi: 10.1037/stl0000102

Rubin, R. B., & Martin, M. M. (1994). Development of a measure of interpersonal communication
competence. Communication Research Reports, 11(1), 33-44.

Tucker-McCorkhill, K. L., & Rudmann, J. L. (2018). Interpersonal Communications Instrument.
Unpublished manuscript, Department of Psychology, Irvine Valley College, Irvine, CA.

 Seed and Reference Articles and Books

American Psychological Association (2013). APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major:
Version 2.0.
Retrieved from

American Psychological Association (2019). The Skillful Psychology Student: Prepared for Success in the 21st Century Workforce. Retrieved from

Boothby, E. J., Cooney, G., Sandstrom, G. M., & Clark, M. S. (2018). The liking gap in conversations: Do
people like us more than we think? Psychological Science. 29(11), 1742-1756.

Carducci, B. J. (1999). The Pocket Guide to Making Successful Small Talk: How to Talk to Anyone
Anywhere About Anything
. Pocket Guide Publishing: New Albany, IN.

Fine, D. (2005). The Fine Art of Small Talk. Hyperion: New York, NY.

Gabor, D. (2001). How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends. Simon & Schuster: New York, NY.

Mast, M. S., & Hall, J.A. (2018).The impact of interpersonal accuracy of behavioral outcomes. Current
Directions in Psychological Science, 27
(5), 309-314.

Rubin, R. B., Graham, E. E., & Mignerey, J. T. (1990). A longitudinal study of college students’
communication competence. Communication Education, 39, 1-14.

Sbarra, D. A., Briskin, J. L., & Slatcher, R. B. (2019). Smartphones and close relationships: The case for an
evolutionary mismatch. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 14(4), 596-618.

Seppala, E. (Blogger). (2017, October 11). What is your phone doing to your relationships? Greater Good
[Blog post]. Retrieved from

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