Public speaking anxiety decreases within repeated virtual reality training sessions

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Takac, Marcel, Collett, James D, Blom, Kristopher J, Conduit, Russell, Rehm, Imogen ORCID: 0000-0002-0053-2272 and De Foe, Alexander ORCID: 0000-0002-5532-3291 (2019) Public speaking anxiety decreases within repeated virtual reality training sessions. PLoS ONE, 14 (5). ISSN 1932-6203


Therapy for public speaking phobia using virtual reality exposure (VRE) has focused on distress arousal rather than distress habituation. Understanding habituation will help optimise session duration, making treatment more affordable and accessible. This pilot study utilised within-speech repeated measures to examine distress habituation during three brief public speaking scenarios in a non-clinical sample (n = 19; 18–76 years). VRE elicited significant distress in all three scenarios. Although within-scenario distress habituation was not observed, between-scenario habituation was partially supported. An increase in distress during the second scenario indicated that three consecutive speech performances were critical in achieving habituation. Brief repeated VRE scenarios using an agent audience were effective in eliciting public speaking distress, as well as habituation.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0216288
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 5299 Other psychology
Current > Division/Research > College of Health and Biomedicine
Keywords public speaking, fear of public speaking, FOPS, anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT, virtual reality exposure, VRE
Citations in Scopus 35 - View on Scopus
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