Dr. Pasqualini’s work with public speaking anxiety

How many of you can honestly say that you have no anxiety when it comes to public speaking? Chances are that that number is pretty low. What are the reasons for this? Most research done in this area has been done by people in the communication department. While that information is helpful for figuring out ways to be prepared for public speaking by knowing the fundamentals of speech, how to use visuals, using eye contact, etc., it doesn’t help explain the reasons why even the most skillful individuals still become extremely anxious.

Dr. Marcia Pasqualini is interested in figuring out why this is. Last year, she and Yoshi Oba –now graduated- presented the findings from a survey study they administered that compared generalized anxiety to public speaking anxiety. What they found is that most people who have public speaking anxiety don’t have generalized anxiety, therefore concluding that this type of anxiety is specific to public speaking situations. After this study, Dr. Pasqualini and her research team looked into the physiological responses produced in public speaking situations. It was found that students had a harder time controlling their physiological responses when they had to give a class presentation. This shows that the reaction to public speaking is not only emotional, but is also very present at a physiological level.

So what’s the best way to help deal with this anxiety? That is Dr. Pasqualini’s next step. This fall, she’ll be looking at different interventions to see what can help. She will also be looking into how this anxiety affects an individual’s level of procrastination. In the long run, she would like to work together with the communication professors to create a resource students can use to receive help with their anxiety.

This type of research is relatable to almost any student, including me. I have a terrible time speaking in front of others; sometimes even answering a question in class is too anxiety provoking. Luckily, my career choice doesn’t require me to present in front of large crowds but many careers do. It’s very likely that individuals have chosen different career paths and other life choices to avoid those situations. Dr. Pasqualini’s research will hopefully shed some light onto what can be done to help get through these instances.

If you’re interested in joining this research or becoming a participant, visit this webpage http://www.avila.edu/psychology/research.asp To learn more about Dr. Pasqualini, visit her webpage http://www.avila.edu/psychology/marciapasqualini.asp


Posted on February 5, 2013, in Faculty and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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