A self-modeling intervention for high school students with public speaking anxiety

Date of Completion

January 2001


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Secondary|Psychology, Clinical




Public speaking anxiety is the most common form of communication apprehension in the general population. This study investigated the efficacy of self-modeling as an intervention for the reduction of behavioral manifestations of public speaking anxiety, self-reported public speaking anxiety, and state anxiety. Positive behavior change through repetitive, videotaped observations of oneself performing the adaptive or desired behavior is a major tenet of self-modeling theory. Seven high school students (male = 6, female = l) with an age range of 14–18 volunteered for the study and all students had elevated levels of self-reported public speaking anxiety. A control student was added to partially control for threats to internal validity. The study employed an AB design replicated across 6 students, plus a control. The three phases of the study were baseline, intervention, and follow-up. During baseline, students presented public speeches to a randomly selected peer audience on 5 separate, spaced occasions. In the intervention phase, students viewed personalized, self-modeling tapes that were free from speech dysfluencies and other behavioral symptoms of speech anxiety. The self-modeling tapes depicted only adaptive, exemplary behavior with an edited-in audience feature making it appear that the students were producing a fluent speech to an audience of their peers. The follow-up phase replicated the baseline phase of the study with the presentation of 4 speeches to a different randomly selected audience. Direct observational measures monitored the behavioral manifestations of public speaking anxiety throughout the baseline and follow-up phases. ^ All of the students evidenced significant decreases in behavioral symptoms of speech anxiety and these changes were maintained throughout follow-up and the range of the students' effect sizes was 2.7 to 4.9. Self-report measures of state anxiety and confidence as a speaker were used to assess additional effects of treatment. For all students, there were significant decreases in self-reported public speaking anxiety and state anxiety from baseline to follow-up. A post-treatment interview measured high consumer satisfaction and generalization of treatment. ^