Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Randall Capps (Chair), Dr. Carley Dodd, Dr. Sally Ray, Dr. Robert Reber

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


This study was designed to determine if differences existed between generations surrounding their preferred communication methods. In examining the social identity perspective of groups, scholars have found that many groups are categorized based on the social structure in which they exist. Generational groups have created their own social structure and set of cultural norms that define each generation. In a recent report released by the Pew Research Center (2010), when the younger generation was asked an open-ended question, "What makes your generation unique?", 24% of those asked responded "Technology Use." One of the unique differences among these generations is the methods they use to communicate.
The research for this study was framed around the following five questions: (a) Are there differences in preferred methods of communication based on generational classification? (b) Does message sensitivity have any effect on preferred method of communication chosen by each generation? (c) Does gender affect the preferred method of communication? (d) Is there a difference in generational preference of communication method based on whether an individual is sending the message or receiving the same message? (e) Is there any difference in generation‘s use of technology as a conflict avoidance instrument?
A survey instrument was created to determine the answers to the above questions and was administered to all students, staff, and faculty affiliated with a Midwest, regional university during the Spring of 2011. Analyses were run on the data received and the results are presented in this research. Results of the analyses demonstrated that there are differences in the preferences of communication methods chosen by generations and that younger generations are more likely to use technology to avoid the displeasure associated with sending a sensitive message.
The results of this study provide useful information to scholars, educators, and leaders about conflict which could be directly related to the communication choices of our generations. Although additional research could be conducted that would add to this study, the information provided here expands on theories by others, suggesting generations are different and do create their own social identity.


Communication | Communication Technology and New Media | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Higher Education and Teaching