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Examining the relationship between public speaking anxiety, distress tolerance and psychological flexibility (Pages 128-133)

Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (JCBS)

Volume 16, April 2020, Pages 128-133


Ana Gallego, Louise McHugh, Matthieu Villatte, Raimo Lappalainen


Public speaking is an important skill for university students to learn and practice as they progress through education and into their careers. However, individuals often avoid facing public speaking, as they lack the skills to cope with the anxiety that arises when speaking in front of others. The current study aimed to investigate the relationship between public speaking anxiety, distress tolerance, and psychological flexibility. A sample of 95 college students completed psychological flexibility measures and self-ratings of public speaking anxiety before and after a public speaking challenge. A behavioral index of public speaking distress tolerance (i.e., speech duration) was also recorded. The results showed that self-reported public speaking anxiety correlates significantly with a number of aspects of psychological flexibility (i.e., openness to experiences, self-perspective skills, and cognitive fusion). These findings suggest that openness to experiences is a key factors in developing interventions to cope with self-reported public speaking anxiety for undergraduate students. However, if we want to increase speech duration as a behavioral index of distress tolerance, training skills related to behavioral awareness and valued actions might be more relevant. The results are discussed in terms of their relevance to the development of public speaking interventions for university students.


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