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Comunicar Journal 72: The disinformation society: The impact of fake news on the public sphere (Vol. 30 - 2022)

Virtual reality with distractors to overcome public speaking anxiety in university students


Emma Rodero

Olatz Larrea


The ability to communicate effectively is a crucial aspect of education. For college students, learning how to speak in public is essential for their academic and professional future. However, many students report fear of speaking in public, the so-called Public Speaking Anxiety (PSA). This study aims to implement a training program using Virtual Reality (VR) with distractors to reduce the college students' anxiety. Anxiety was measured with two methods: electrodermal activity and self-report. We also analyze gender differences. There were an experimental and a control group. Both groups had to deliver the same speech twice: pre-test (before training); and post-test (after the training program) while participants’ electrodermal activity was measured. Only the experimental group was trained with VR. Students also completed the Public Speaking Anxiety Scale and a survey to examine their experience. The results showed that the VR training reduced the anxiety levels significantly in the experimental group, but there were no significant differences in the control group. The data also revealed a higher level of anxiety in male than in female students. Finally, participants reported a positive impression of the VR training. These results showed the effectiveness of Virtual Reality software with distractors to reduce public speaking anxiety.


Virtual reality, public speaking, anxiety, education, communication, university students

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