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Communicative congruence and dysphoria (Welch & Helou, 2022)

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posted on 2022-09-02, 20:05 authored by Brett Welch, Leah B. Helou

Purpose: This study examines communicative congruence and communicative dysphoria in adults who deny having a voice disorder. Communicative congruence is the degree to which a person’s communication is consistent with their sense of self/identity. Communicative dysphoria is the psychological entropy resulting from communicative incongruence. We propose that these experiences may influence patients’ psychosocial well-being and are thus relevant to the field of speech-language pathology. We hypothesized that both constructs would be normally distributed with an inverse relationship. We also hypothesized that communicative congruence would predict scores on the Center for Epidemiological Studies–Depression (CES-D) scale, subscales of the Big Five Aspect Scales (BFAS; a personality measure), and achieve convergent validity with the Vocal Congruence Scale (VCS).

Method: Participants (adults 18–70 years) completed the BFAS, CES-D, VCS, and the Voice Handicap Index–10 (VHI-10) before recording a series of speech tasks. Participants’ recordings were played back while they responded to questions probing their communicative congruence and communicative dysphoria.

Results: The 196 participants were predominantly female (67.3%) and cisgender (96.4%). Communicative congruence was negatively skewed, and communicative dysphoria was normally distributed. Both variables significantly related to each other: More incongruence was associated with more dysphoria. Communicative congruence was inversely related to CES-D scores. The personality metatrait Plasticity related to communicative congruence, as did the domain of Extraversion and the aspects Withdrawal, Enthusiasm, and Assertiveness. Communicative congruence achieved high convergent validity with the VCS.

Conclusions: Counter to our hypothesis, participants reported more congruence than incongruence, but all other hypotheses were supported. Participants who reported incongruence were more likely to report symptoms of depression. These findings suggest that even in a predominantly cisgender cohort, some individuals’ mental well-being might relate to how well their communication aligns with their identity. This work may inform future investigations into these constructs and their effects on voice therapy outcomes.

Supplemental Material S1. Additional information about the personality trait structure of the Big Five Aspect Scales, as well as the exact instructions given to participants and displays the in-person versus online coefficient estimate for the analyses.

Welch, B., & Helou, L. B. (2022). Measuring communicative congruence and communicative dysphoria in a sample of individuals without voice disorders. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication.


This project was funded in part by the Chancellor’s Award for Innovation in Research, awarded to Leah B. Helou, by the Office of the Chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh.