Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The purpose of the study was to determine experimentally what effects, if any, two key within-receiver characteristics would have on the meanings communicated messages had for the respondents. The within-receiver characteristics were the emotional states of mind and communication skill levels of the test subjects. The study hypothesized that: 1. The meanings given communicated messages by subjects receiving dissimilar emotional inducements would vary significantly. 2. The meanings given communicated messages by subjects with different communication skill levels would vary significantly. 3. There would be a significant interaction effect of the dissimilar emotional inducements and communication skill levels of the subjects on the meanings given communicated messages. The study used a modified after-only with control group experimental design. The independent variables were the emotional inducements and communication skill levels of the subjects. The dependent variable was the meaning given five one-word concepts as measured by the Semantic Differential. The sample was made up of 221 undergraduate business students enrolled in ten different classes at nine different universities in Texas and Louisiana. The research procedure consisted of two entries into each of the selected classrooms. At the first entry the investigator delivered a cover story, measured the students' communication skill levels, and established the expectation of a return visit. Prior to the second visit the classroom instructor gave a regularly scheduled exam. On the day of the investigator's return visit the classroom instructor, at the beginning of the class period, implemented either a positive, negative, or neutral emotional inducement. These inducements were tied to the return of the exam. Near the end of this same class period the investigator entered and administered the Semantic Differential. Only afterwards were the students told they had participated in an experiment. The subjects' communication skill levels were measured by a standardized test, the Employee Aptitude Survey— Test 1, Verbal Comprehension. The scores from this test formed the basis for ranking all subjects into a high, medium, or low communication skill level category. The subjects then received a positive, negative, or neutral emotional inducement. The "after" measurement was the meaning given five one-word concepts by subjects who were characterized by a high, low, or medium communication skill level and who had received a positive, negative, or neutral emotional inducement. From the Semantic Differential the study derived twelve dependent variable measures. Five of these came from the evaluative scale designations of the five one-word concepts. Five others came from the potency scale designations of the same concepts. In addition, two composite scores were derived by averaging the evaluative (and potency) scale designations of all five concepts for each subject. The principal analytical technique was the two-way analysis of variance. Each dependent variable measure was tested to see if differences in meaning between test groups were attributable to the types of emotional inducements, to the communication skill levels, or to an interaction effect between these factors. All statistical tests were operated at an alpha level of .05. The study obtained statistically significant findings in five of the twelve tests run. There was a significant interaction effect with the concept Sword, using potency scale designations. There was one instance of significant difference in meaning attributable to different communication skill levels. This occurred with the evaluative scale designations for the concept Symphony. Statistically significant differences between groups attributable to dissimilar emotional inducements occurred with the evaluative composite score, the potency-Patriot score, the evaluative-Symphony score, and the evaluativc-Cop score. The study concluded that, based on th ese findings, there was reason to believe that emotions affect the meanings given incoming stimuli.