Desire for control and personality as predictors of three communication traits in a public speaking context
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Cape Breton University, Sydney, Canada
Submission date: 2018-03-16
Final revision date: 2019-07-05
Acceptance date: 2019-07-06
Online publication date: 2019-10-21
Publication date: 2019-11-04
Current Issues in Personality Psychology 2019;7(3):212-219
Communication in general, and public speaking in particular, are important means to exert influence over other people; control is an enduring motive for communication. People differ substantially in the amount of control they typically want; some seek control and others tend to avoid it. But is the desire for control (DC) redundant with more basic personality traits in predicting individual differences related to public speaking?

Participants and procedure:
This study, conducted with 196 undergraduate students using well-established measures, examines correla-tions among desire for control, the Big Five, and three communication traits specifically referencing public speaking: willingness to communicate, perceived competence, and public speaking anxiety. The measures were administered by questionnaire.

Correlations show that people with higher DC tend to be more willing to communicate and perceive themselves to be more competent and, to a weaker extent, less anxious. Hierarchical multiple regressions show that the role of DC is not redundant with Big Five personality traits in predicting willingness to communicate and self-perceived competence, but also that DC does not significantly add to predicting public speaking anxiety.

Speaking in a public context may be especially attractive to persons with a desire for control who tend to feel both willing and able to communicate. Public speaking anxiety appears less consistently related to individual differences in DC.

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