Apr 1, 1976

Role of expectancy set in the systematic desensitization of speech anxiety: an extension of prior research

Journal of Clinical Psychology
R W Hemme, M Boor


The influence of expectancy set with regard to therapy outcome on the effectiveness of systematic desensitization (SD) for reducing public speaking anxiety was investigated. The 7 Ss given a high expectancy set for favorable therapy outcome were informed about psychological research that indicates that SD is effective to reduce public speaking fears. SD was administered with the standard instructions to the 11 Ss given a neutral expectancy set. This expectancy manipulation did not require deception and perhaps could be used with actual SD therapy clients. As in previous research by Woy and Efran, the expectancy set manipulation significantly modified Ss' self-report of subjective perceptions of anxiety from pretreatment to posttreatment speeches, but did not affect overt behavioral or physiological indices of anxiety. Since subjective perceptions of anxiety responses are psychologically significant behaviors, these data suggest the importance of conveying a high expectation of improvement to SD and perhaps also to other types of therapy clients. SD sessions administered to small groups of clients on consecutive days, as in this study, appeared to be as effective to reduce speech anxiety as SD sessions administered to each clien...Continue Reading

  • References9
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  • References9
  • Citations2

Mentioned in this Paper

Mind-Body Relations (Physiology)
Psychological Desensitization Therapy
Anxiety Disorders
Verbal Behavior
Group Therapy
Receptor Desensitization
Behavior Therapy

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