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Public speaking anxiety as a function of sensitization and habituation processes

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In the present study, it was hypothesized that (1) changes in (1) state anxiety from rest to the beginning of a speech (sensitization), in (2) changes in state anxiety during the first minute of the speech presentation (habituation 1), and in (3) state anxiety during the last minute of the speech presentation (habituation 2) are all significant predictors of college students' state anxiety during public speaking. Results indicated that both sensitization and habituation 1 were significant predictors, together accounting for 68% of the variance in overall state anxiety scores during speech performance. Changes in anxiety during the last minute of the speech (habituation 2) did not contribute significantly to the prediction of overall state anxiety. Educators need to adopt a variety of classroom techniques to help students reduce initial sensitization and to foster early habituation in public speaking practice.
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Keywords: anxiety patterns; habituation processes; public speaking anxiety; sensitization processes

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-04-01

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