This investigation examined the relationship between predispositions toward communication reticence and five verbal encoding behaviors: productivity, lexical diversity, complexity, comprehensibility, and language intensity. Dimensions of the Personal Report of Communication Apprehension, the Unwillingness-to-Communication Scale, and the Writing Apprehension Test were all found to predict facets of language use among 83 students who anonymously wrote essays and filled in the blanks on prepared messages. Individuals who had high apprehension toward and/or negative evaluation of oral communication contexts displayed less intense language, greater productivity, more varied vocabulary, more complex language, and less comprehensible verbalizations. Conversely, individuals with high apprehension toward and/or negative evaluations of written communication activities used more redundant language, simpler vocabulary, more intense language, and more comprehensible verbalizations. Results are discussed in terms of the distinctions that can be made among the conventional communication reticence constructs and the ability of impairment, facilitation, and choice explanations to account for the effects.
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