Communication Addiction Disorder: Concern Over Media, Behavior & Effects
While extraversion and sociability are characteristics which, when exhibited appropriately, confer attributions of credibility and may be pro-social, personal experience, history, and literature are replete with anecdotal accounts of people who talk a great deal to negative extents. Terms such as “talk too much,” verbose, long-winded, gossipy, dominating, etc., all speak to the notion that auditors devalue others who verbalize beyond normative levels, and that lay interpretations of such behavior result in
While cultural values clearly are mixed over people’s frequency and duration of talking, scientific studies present a much more clear-cut profile of the pervasiveness of talking too much, among various populations.
Research examining communication reticence (a.k.a. communication apprehension, shyness, etc.) reveal that a good sixteen per cent of randomly sampled college populations may be classified as talk-prone. This finding has been replicated on normal adult populations as well (McCroskey, 1978). While such diagnoses were not part of the original intent of the communication apprehension measure, the inference is as warranted as the communication apprehension diagnosis; the Personal Report of Communication Apprehension originally was scored to separate the most apprehensive (those whose scores fall grater than one standard deviation from the mean) from the least (whose scores fall below one S.D.), and found significant differences between these groups on the self-same scale. By definition, then, 16% of a sample may be considered to be highly communication apprehensive, and 16% its opposite, which we can presume to define abnormally communication-active. Refinements of the scale—short forms, similar to the IAD forms on http://www.netaddiction.com/resources/iaindex.htm—now allow diagnosis using a few key questions and attributing apprehension disorder to certain absolute ranges of scores.
Other assessments and measures more directly assess bi-directional levels of communication attitudes and presumably, verbal behaviors. Research using the originally-neutral Predisposition Toward Verbal Behavior scale (e.g. Mortensen, Arnston, & Lustig, 1977) recently discovered that significantly high scores tended to correspond to peer identification of someone who talks too much (Bostrom & Harrington, 1999), bolstering the approach that at the opposite end of a scale for a chronically low-talker, is a statistically a high-talker, too.
In fairness, the above measures were designed to assess negative or neutral syndromes, and they are attitudinal rather than behavioral in nature. Other research efforts, however, have broken ground on classifying more a potentially more disturbing addiction-like syndrome: compulsive communication. McCroskey and Richmond (1995) developed a “talkaholic” scale. “People scoring highly on the ‘Talkaholic Scale’ are referred to as ‘talkaholics,’ the name taken as an analog to the compulsive and excessive behavior of ‘alchoholics’ and ‘workaholics’” (McCroskey & Richmond, 1995, p. 40), a similar analogs that are used to describe Internet Addiction (e.g. Anderson, 1999; King, 1996) such “on-lineaholics” (Young, 1998).