The effects of training on communicative functioning during normative discussion

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

William M. Kurtines

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Margarita Azmitia

Third Advisor's Name

Marvin Dunn


Communication in psychology, Communication in small groups, Discussion, Psychological aspects

Date of Defense



A study was conducted to investigate the effects of training on level of communicative functioning during normative discussion. The Communicative Functioning Scale-Moral Dilemmas (CFS-MD) was used to assess the differential effects of the training versus the control condition. The subjects for the study were university students from Florida International University in Miami, Florida.

Subjects were randomly assigned to either the experimental or the control group. All subjects were pre-tested on the Sociomoral Competence Scale-Moral Issues (SCS-MI) and the Sociomoral Competence Scale-Moral Dilemmas (SCS-MD). Subjects were then classified into two groups on the SCS-MD, the High Score Group and the Low Score Group, based on a median split. Because these subjects later participated in dyadic discussions over these same topics, the purpose of the split was to create a context for normative discussion, with each member of the dyad representing a different position on the dilemmas. Subjects in the experimental condition were then given a series of "take home" training exercises which were designed to teach communication skills important in conflict resolution. The control group was not involved in this phase of the project.

After the subjects in the experimental condition finished the training exercises, the dyads were identified for the Discussion Phase of the project. One subject from the High Score Group and one subject from the Low Score Group were randomly paired. A ten-point minimum score difference criteria was an added restriction if a pair scored near the median. Subjects in both the experimental and the control condition were included in this phase of the project. The SCS-MD was the discussion stimulus. Subjects were instructed to try to reach an agreement on how to resolve the dilemmas during discussion. Discussions were videotaped and rated by the experimenter and one other rater. Discussions were rated for both the level of communicative functioning attained during the discussion phase and for the outcome of the discussions (i.e. , the type of resolution).

Two weeks after the data from the discussions was collected, all subjects in both the experimental and the control condition were given a post-test on the SCS-MI and the SCS-MD.

The two primary research hypotheses were: 1) the effects of the training phase on the level of communicative functioning during peer discussion involving normative conflict, and 2 ) the effects of group communicative functioning during peer discussion on changes in sociomoral knowledge and understanding.

The results of the analyses indicated that there were significant differences on a number of the indices of communicative functioning, with the differences in the predicted direction. In addition, the results also provided some support for the hypothesis that subjects in the experimental training condition displayed greater short term change in sociomoral knowledge and understanding.



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