Abstract

The major goal of this research was to investigate the efficacy of virtual reality therapy (VRT) in the treatment of the fear of public speaking. After an extensive two-stage screening process, sixteen subjects were selected from the pool. They were assigned to two treatment conditions: VRT (N=8) and comparison group (N=8). Fourteen subjects completed the study. The VRT group was exposed to the virtual reality public speaking scene while the comparison group was exposed to a trivial virtual reality scene and guided by the experimenters to manage their phobia either by using visualization techniques or selfexposure to the situation they feared. The VRT and comparison group sessions were conducted on an individual basis over a five week period. Two assessment measures were used in this study. The first measure used was the Attitude Towards Public Speaking (ATPS) Questionnaire. The second measure used was the eleven-point Subjective Units of Disturbance (SUD) scale. These measurements assessed the anxiety, avoidance, attitudes and disturbance associated with their fear of public speaking before and after treatments. In addition, objective measures such as heart rate was collected in each stage of the treatment. Significant differences between the six subjects who completed the VRT sessions and comparison group were found on all measures. The VRT group showed significant improvement after five weeks of treatment. The comparison group did not show any meaningful changes. The authors concluded that VRT was successful in reducing the fear of the public speaking.

Authors


Max M. North


Sarah M. North


Joseph R. Coble

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