Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Speech Communication

Document Type



This study explored imagined interaction (IIs) and bereavement coping self-efficacy in psychosocial adjustment to spousal bereavement. II characteristics and functions explored include discrepancy, activity, proactivity, specificity, retroactivity, variety, valence, catharsis, self-understanding, rehearsal, compensation and use of IIs with the deceased spouse. The current study's primary contribution is the introduction of bereavement phenomena into the framework of intrapersonal communication. The present investigation includes results of two studies. The first included a sample of 232 individuals at varying lengths of widowhood who completed the Adjustment Survey, a 15-page survey instrument consisting of II factors, IIs with deceased spouse, bereavement coping self-efficacy, social support, interaction with other widow(er)s, pre-death communication for survivorship, as well as demographic characteristics. The second study, a follow-up to the initial study, included a sample of 75 widows/widowers who completed a revised version of the Adjustment Survey. Revisions to the survey consisted of contextualizing the II measurement tool to reflect more direct association with spousal bereavement. Findings of the first study unearthed an indirect relationship between psychosocial adjustment to spousal bereavement and reports of IIs with the deceased spouse. Participants reporting more frequent occurrence of IIs with the deceased spouse reported lower levels of adjustment. Findings confirmed a direct relationship between bereavement coping self-efficacy and psychosocial adjustment to spousal bereavement. These findings indicate that internal phenomena, namely imagined interaction and self-efficacy, make significant contributions to processing spousal bereavement. The nature of the association between IIs and the adjustment process was further explored in a follow-up investigation. The second study was conducted to explore the strength of the relationship between global psychosocial adjustment and II factors more specifically reflecting the nature of spousal bereavement. Study 2 results support the first study in that IIs with the deceased spouse again were found to share an indirect relationship with global adjustment. II valence also emerged as a significant, negatively-related factor in global adjustment. II self-understanding, which also shared an indirect relationship with adjustment, began to approach traditional significance as well. Overall findings confirm that intrapersonal phenomena contribute to the adjustment process in spousal bereavement.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

James M. Honeycutt