Reduction of fear arousal in young adults with speech anxiety through elicitation of positive emotions


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Virginia Tech


A research study was conducted to examine Fredrickson's Broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions in a speech anxious sample of undergraduate students. Experimental elicitation of positive emotions has previously been shown to speed cardiovascular recovery, increase attention, and broaden thought-action repertoires compared to elicitation of negative or neutral emotions (Fredrickson et al., 2000). 88 undergraduate students were selected from a screening process based on their reported speech anxiety on the Personal Report of Confidence as a Speaker (PRCS). Students who reported low or high speech anxiety completed an anxiety provoking task and were subsequently exposed to either a neutral emotion condition "Pipes" film) or one of two positive emotion conditions ("Puppy" film or thinking of a happy memory task). Fredrickson's theory was not supported since results showed no differences in cardiovascular recovery, thought-action repertoires, or global thinking for either groups or conditions. However, differences were found for broadened scope of attention on a modified Stroop task where the low anxiety group responded faster to threat words in the neutral and happy memory conditions than after viewing a positive film. Results of the study are discussed in light of attribution theory of emotion and previous studies on the effects of positive emotions.



positive emotions, speech anxiety, Emotion regulation, college students