Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Speech Communication


This study sought to determine the relationship between para-social interaction (an imaginary interaction with mass media) with local and network news viewing and rhetorical sensitivity (an attitude toward encoding spoken messages). It was predicted that para-social interaction would be positively related to rhetorical sensitivity. The Rubin, Perse, and Powell PSI Scale was used to measure para-social interaction. The three internal scales of the Hart, Carlson and Eadie RHETSEN II Scale (the Noble Self Scale, the Rhetorical Reflector Scale and the Rhetorical Sensitivity Scale) were used to measure rhetorical sensitivity. 157 undergraduates enrolled in communication courses responded to scales. A canonical correlation was performed using the criterion variables of PSI Local and PSI Network, and the predictors variables of scores on the Noble Self Scale, the Rhetorical Reflector Scale, and the Rhetorical Sensitivity Scale. Subsequent Pearson correlations were performed on the individual variables. The results of the canonical correlation were not significant. The Pearson correlations demonstrated a weak, but significant positive relationship between both PSI Local and PSI Network and the Noble Self Scale. A weak, but significant negative relationship between PSI Local and the Rhetorical Sensitivity Scale is also demonstrated. No significant relationship was found between PSI and the Rhetorical Reflector Scale. The results indicated the opposite of the predicted relationship. As rhetorical sensitivity increases, the tendency to engage in para-social interaction decreases. The nature of communicative choices and the nature of intrapersonal communication are the focus of the explanation for the conflicting results. Feedback, inherent in interpersonal communication and absent in mass communication, may serve as the distinguishing factor. The Rubin, Perse, and Powell PSI Scale is shown to be reliable for measuring para-social interaction with both local and network television news viewing. A high correlation exists between para-social interaction with local and network news viewing. Recommendations include future research to prove that the contrary direction of the results are accurate and to further investigate the relationship between mass communication and interpersonal communication.