The comparative effectiveness of heart rate biofeedback, speech skills training, and a combination of both in treating public-speaking anxiety

Mark E. McKinney, Robert J. Gatchel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Forty-two speech-anxious undergraduate students (21 female, 21 male) were administered either heart rate biofeedback training, speech skills training, or a combination of both to aid in the alleviation of speech anxiety. Physiological (heart rate, tonic skin conductance level, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure), overt motor, and self-report measures of anxiety were assessed during a pretreatment speech and two posttreatment speeches. Results indicated that all treatments were effective in lowering overt motor and self-report components of anxiety. However, only the biofeedback and combined group subjects demonstrated significantly less heart rate increase while speaking before an audience during the posttreatment assessment. Two individual difference variables examined in this study - cognitive/autonomic focus of anxiety and subjective confidence in treatment - were not found to significantly influence treatment effectiveness. Finally, factor analyses of the physiological data suggested that heart rate changes play a large role in the physiological component of anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-87
Number of pages17
JournalBiofeedback and Self-Regulation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 1982


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