Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/31263
Social phobia and public speaking anxiety (PSA) are highly prevalent and debilitating. While psychological treatments have been shown to be effective, few decide to seek treatment. Using virtual reality in an exposure component has been proposed to increase the number of people who seek treatment. The present study designed, and pilot tested the effectiveness of a virtual environment (VE) at inducing anxiety and the effect of waiting before public speaking. The environment consisted of a hallway with a door that led to a classroom with a virtual audience. Participants (n=27) were randomized to an exposure group (EG) or a waiting period + exposure group (W+EG). Participants were asked to perform a three-minute presentation to a virtual audience. Participants in the W+EG waited for two minutes in a hallway before entering the classroom to deliver their presentation. All participants completed measures of trait social- and PSA at baseline as well as subjective measures of anxiety (SUDS) at baseline, after preparing the presentation, before entering the classroom, and while delivering the presentation. The data was analysed with repeated measures ANCOVA with two between-subject factors (group and trait PSA) and one within-subject factor (experimental stage). The results revealed that participants (n=14) high on trait PSA reported more anxiety during the experimental phases than those with lower PSA (n=12). Participants high on trait PSA in the W+EG experienced more anxiety while waiting than those who scored low on trait PSA. These findings suggest that VE may be effective in exposure interventions for PSA.