Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Melanie Booth-Butterfield.

Committee Co-Chair

Maria Brann

Committee Member

Rebecca M. Chory-Assad


This study examines the relationship between personality traits and communication patterns following the contraction of a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Participants were 148 college students (46 men, 104 women) attending a large Mid-Atlantic University. Seventy-four of the participants reported having had an STI. Participants completed the Communication Competence Scale (Wiemann, 1977), the Interpersonal Trust Scale (ITS: Rotter, 1967), the Revised Self-Disclosure Scale (Wheeless & Grotz, 1976), the conscientious factor of the NEO Personality Inventory (Costa & McCrae, 1992), the Health Locus of Control Scale (Wallston, Wallston, Kaplan, & Maides, 1976), and the interpersonal anxiety factor of the Personal Report of Communication Apprehension-24 (McCroskey, 1978). Results showed that individuals with an external health locus of control were more likely to acquire an STI; upon contraction, women were more likely to self-disclose than men; individuals with high interpersonal communication apprehension take more time to disclose; more than 70% of individuals will self-disclose within the first week following diagnosis of an STI; and the most common motivation for self-disclosing is because the other person needed to know. Post-hoc analyses revealed that men who reported higher levels of interpersonal trust were more likely to acquire an STI and the first person most individuals tell about an STI diagnosis is either a romantic partner or a family member.