An Experiment to Assess the Usefulness of a Virtual Environment as a Method of Public Speaking Anxiety Exposure

(1) La Salle Academy, Providence, Rhode Island

This abstract describes an experiment conducted to assess the effectiveness of a virtual environment to act as a method of exposure in the treatment of public speaking anxiety among high school students. In one of the experimental conditions, the participants had to make a presentation to a virtual audience using a Samsung Gear VR headset, which displayed a prerecorded 360-degree video of a classroom full of students. In another experimental condition, the participants had to make a presentation, without the VR headset and an audience. In both conditions, participant’s heartbeat rate (response variable) was measured. The results show that the heartbeat during the experimental condition with a VR headset was significantly higher with respect to the heartbeat rate measured to the condition without the headset. This study should be followed up with a treatment study, where a virtual reality device would track a user’s vitals during prolonged use and report the user’s progress.

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anxiety exposure public speaking virtual reality heart rate
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