Self-compassion for speech anxiety : an experiment




Long, Phoebe

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



College classrooms are increasingly becoming student-centered and professors are sharing with their students the duty of speaking in front of large and small groups. While asking students to verbally communicate can facilitate active learning processes, students’ academic performance can be hindered by their fear of speaking in public. Public speaking anxiety is associated with fearing negative evaluation, high levels of self-criticism, and low perceptions of one’s competence as a speaker. As such, existing interventions target the negative outcome expectancies theorized to maintain speaking anxiety. A promising intervention may involve generating self-compassion, which is a way of relating to the self with kindness and mindful awareness, while recognizing one’s common humanity. Through reduced self-criticism, individuals with higher self-compassion may perceive themselves to be more competent and to have more control over the outcome of speaking to an audience, leading to reduced feelings of anxiety. In this study, individuals who listened to a guided self-compassion practice, the “self-compassion break,” were hypothesized to exhibit increases in their perceptions of their speech performance and their positive self-statements, while exhibiting decreases in their negative self-statements and state communication anxiety compared to individuals in a control condition. A multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) indicated no significant differences between groups on outcome measures. Behavioral signs of speech anxiety were also not significantly different between groups. Participants’ qualitative data revealed the recordings produced a calming effect in both self-compassion and control groups. Exploratory analyses showed that, across groups, state and trait self-compassion are indirectly associated with state communication anxiety through perceptions of speech ability and negative self-statements.


LCSH Subject Headings