Willingness To Communicate (WTC)

Background:

The study of various general orientations toward communication has held an important place in communication research for over a half-century. This research has been conducted under a wide variety of conceptualizations. These have included stage fright, speech anxiety, communication apprehension, shyness, reticence, unwillingness to communicate, willingness to communicate, talkativeness, verbal activity, vocal activity, and a number of others. Although these are all related constructs, there are important distinctions among them. One group of constructs relates to anxiety or apprehension about communicating (stage fright, speech anxiety, communication apprehension). Another centers on actual talking frequency (verbal activity, vocal activity, talkativeness). A third centers on the preference to approach or avoid communication (reticence, unwillingness to communicate, willingness to communicate). The Willingness to Communicate Scale (WTC) is a 20-item, probability estimate scale. The scale was designed as a direct measure of the respondent’s predisposition toward approaching or avoiding the initiation of communication.

Psychometrics:

The face validity of the instrument is strong, and results of extensive research indicate the predictive validity of the instrument. Alpha reliability estimates for this instrument have ranged from .85 to above .90. Of the 20 items on the instrument, eight are used to distract attention from the scored items. The twelve remain items generate a total score, four context-type scores, and three receiver-type scores. The sub-scores generate lower reliability estimates, but generally high enough to be used in research studies.

Author of Tool:

McCroskey, J. C., & Richmond, V. P.

Key references:

McCroskey, J. C. (1992). Reliability and validity of the willingness to communicate scale. Communication Quarterly, 40, 16-25. McCroskey, J. C., & Richmond, V. P. (1987). Willingness to communicate. In J. C. McCroskey & J. A. Daly (Eds.), Personality and interpersonal communication (pp. 119-131). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Primary use / Purpose:

Willingness to communicate is the most basic orientation toward communication. Almost anyone is likely to respond to a direct question, but many will not continue or initiate interaction. This instrument measures a person’s willingness to initiate communication.

Willingness To Communicate (WTC)

Willingness to communicate is the most basic orientation toward communication. Almost anyone is likely to respond to a direct question, but many will not continue or initiate interaction. This instrument measures a person's willingness to initiate communication. The face validity of the instrument is strong, and results of extensive research indicate the predictive validity of the instrument. Alpha reliability estimates for this instrument have ranged from .85 to well above .90. Of the 20 items on the instrument, 8 are used to distract attention from the scored items. The twelve remain items generate a total score, 4 context-type scores, and 3 receiver-type scores. The sub-scores generate lower reliability estimates, but generally high enough to be used in research studies.

Directions: Below are 20 situations in which a person might choose to communicate or not to communicate. Presume you have completely free choice. Indicate the percentage of times you would choose to communicate in each type of situation. Indicate in the space at the left of the item what percent of the time you would choose to communicate. (0 = Never to 100 = Always)

  1. Talk with a service station
  2. Talk with a
  3. Present a talk to a group of
  4. Talk with an acquaintance while standing in
  5. Talk with a salesperson in a
  6. Talk in a large meeting of
  7. Talk with a police officer.
  8. Talk in a small group of
  9. Talk with a friend while standing in
  10. Talk with a waiter/waitress in a restaurant.
  11. Talk in a large meeting of
  12. Talk with a stranger while standing in
  13. Talk with a
  14. Present a talk to a group of
  15. Talk in a small group of
  16. Talk with a garbage
  17. Talk in a large meeting of
  18. Talk with a spouse (or girl/boyfriend).
  19. Talk in a small group of
  20. Present a talk to a group of

Scoring:

Context-type sub-scores--

Group Discussion: Add scores for items 8, 15, & 19; then divide by 3. Meetings: Add scores for items 6, 11, 17; then divide by 3.

Interpersonal: Add scores for items 4, 9, 12; then divide by 3.

Public Speaking: Add scores for items 3, 14, 20; then divide by 3.

Receiver-type sub-scores--

Stranger: Add scores for items 3, 8, 12, 17; then divide by 4.

Acquaintance: Add scores for items 4, 11, 15, 20; then divide by 4.

Friend: Add scores for items 6, 9, 14, 19; then divide by 4.

To compute the total WTC score, add the sub scores for stranger, acquaintance, and friend. Then divide by 3.

All scores, total and sub-scores, will fall in the range of 0 to 100

Norms for WTC Scores:

Group discussion >89 High WTC, <57 Low WTC Meetings >80 High WTC, <39 Low WTC

Interpersonal conversations >94 High WTC, <64 Low WTC Public Speaking >78 High WTC, <33 Low WTC

Stranger >63 High WTC, <18 Low WTC Acquaintance >92 High WTC, <57 Low WTC Friend >99 High WTC, <71 Low WTC

Total WTC >82 High Overall WTC, <52 Low Overall WTC