Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations


An Examination of Individual Differences in Communication-Related Social Cognitive Structures in Association with Selling Effectiveness

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Melissa Spirek (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Terry Rentner (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Canchu Lin (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Karen Johnson-Webb (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Michael Waltman (Committee Member)


Despite sales being the lifeblood of the majority of organizations, the discussion of selling remains sparse in communication literature. Personal sales interactions remain an important but understudied topic in scholarly literature and are deserving of systematic and rigorous academic research. This project advocates the use of communication theory to inform personal selling. Based upon an interdisciplinary literature review, ten observations contributing to the importance of the study are provided.

Using Constructivism as the research orientation, cognitive differentiation, person-centered communication, self-monitoring, and organizational role perceptions were explored in relation to sales effectiveness for this study. Overall, the fundamental link between communication and sales performance was supported by the findings. Top performing sales representatives were found to have significantly higher scores for persuasive ability, person-centered communication, self-monitoring, and organizational role in comparison to their peers. However, cognitive complexity was not found to be significantly related to sales performance.