Purpose of review: This review examines the current knowledge on public-speaking anxiety, that is, the fear of speaking in front of others. This article summarizes the findings from previous review articles and describes new research findings on basic science aspects, prevalence rates, classification, and treatment that have been published between August 2008 and August 2011.
Recent findings: Recent findings highlight the major aspects of psychological and physiological reactivity to public speaking in individuals who are afraid to speak in front of others, confirm high prevalence rates of the disorder, contribute to identifying the disorder as a possibly distinct subtype of social anxiety disorder (SAD), and give support to the efficacy of treatment programs using virtual reality exposure and Internet-based self-help.
Summary: Public-speaking anxiety is a highly prevalent disorder, leading to excessive psychological and physiological reactivity. It is present in a majority of individuals with SAD and there is substantial evidence that it may be a distinct subtype of SAD. It is amenable to treatment including, in particular, new technologies such as exposure to virtual environments and the use of cognitive–behavioral self-help programs delivered on the Internet.
Laboratoire des Troubles Emotionnels, Centre de Recherche Public-Santé, Strassen, Luxembourg
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