Widening the lens: An interdisciplinary approach to examining the effect of exposure therapy on public speaking state anxiety.
Description: This study used an interdisciplinary approach to examine an intervention for reducing public speaking state anxiety. A quasi-experiment was conducted to determine if a multiple-exposure treatment technique (TRIPLESPEAK) would help to attenuate public speaking anxiety. The treatment group reported experiencing significantly less state anxiety during their post-test presentation than did the control group. This lead to the conclusion that exposure therapy can be used to help students enrolled in basic communication classes begin to overcome their fear of speaking in front of an audience. Follow-up analysis of the treatment group's reported anxiety levels during all five presentations (pre-test, Treatment Presentation 1, Treatment Presentation 2, Treatment Presentation 3, and post-test) revealed an increase in anxiety from the last treatment presentation to the post-test presentation. In order to explore this issue, Shannon's entropy was utilized to calculate the amount of information in each speaking environment. Anderson's functional ontology construction approach served as a model to explain the role of the environment in shaping speakers' current and future behaviors and reports of anxiety. The exploratory analysis revealed a functional relationship between information and anxiety. In addition, a qualitative study was conducted to determine which environmental stimuli speakers perceived contributed to their anxiety levels. Students reported experiencing anxiety based on four categories, which included speaker concerns, audience characteristics, contextual factors and assignment criteria. Students' reports of anxiety were dependent upon their previous speaking experiences, and students suggested differences existed between the traditional presentations and the treatment presentations. Pedagogical and theoretical implications are discussed.
Date: August 2007
Creator: Finn, Amber N.
Partner: UNT Libraries