Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

Document Type



Previous studies have found imagined interactions (IIs) help individuals recall past interactions and plan for future interactions. Those studies have not investigated what occurs when individuals imagine the interactions of others (third-party imagined interactions hereafter TPIIs), how the II varies with the party imagined or what happens when those imagined interactions create false views of what happened. To fill this research gap, this study proposed one research question and nine hypotheses investigating TPIIs, how they vary with the individual in the TPII, if they contribute to false memories and how they affect communication plans. A survey was conducted to gain information about the use of TPIIs and IIs to investigate the similarities. An experiment using an induced TPII, with a prisoner’s dilemma and an iterated chicken game was conducted to learn the effect of the TPII on plans to communicate. The research question found that TPIIs exist and are mostly similar to IIs in topics, imagined targets characteristics and functions. T-tests indicated a difference in frequency, valence, and variety characteristics and the catharsis function. Equivalence testing found other characteristics and functions to be equivalent. Based on social identity theory a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) found TPIIs do vary in valence and specificity with the individual’s group status. The odds of planning to cooperate with the other party in the prisoner’s dilemma when the other party was visualized cooperating was 5.6 times the odds of not. T-tests indicated greater mental effort in the TPII among individuals who developed false memories. Those with false memories were 1.8 times more likely to be competitive in the manner they communicated than those who did not have a false memory in the TPII, while A logistic regression showed people who had greater positive valence in the TPII were more likely to communicate with the other party. These results indicate in-group members are harder to imagine if no relational history is present. The more involved the TPII is the more likely the person will develop a false memory. TPIIs are used in planning for future interactions. The implication for conflict resolution is discussed.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Honeycutt, James M.



Included in

Communication Commons