Blaine Goss New Mexico State University
Widespread interest in intrapersonal communication--the study of how people process messages--began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when speech departments updated their programs to include behavioral approaches to the study of communication. In those days, speech departments were a conglomeration of performance-oriented scholars coming from rhetorical traditions and speech scientists who were known as the speech and hearing faculty. Many such departments included broadcasting and, perhaps, theater arts as well. In short, if it had anything to do with oral communication, it was in the speech department. The addition of the psychological behavioral sciences offered another perspective to the study of speech.
Because the speech scientists were primarily interested in the productive and receptive skills of the communicator, they were the early intrapersonal communication scholars. Even if intervention was the speech and hearing department faculty's chief motive, clients were studied as language using speakers and listeners. Thus, early interest in intrapersonal communication focused on either listening behavior or some aspect of speech science (speech perception, language acquisition, audiology).
The professional associations also reflected a speech and hearing interest. For instance, the Speech Association of America (as it was known then) had a Speech Science Division composed primarily of speech and hearing scientists and clinicians.