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Anne Miers investigates public speaking anxiety treatments with new grant

Developmental psychologist Anne Miers of Leiden University is involved in a large-scale research project investigating the efficacy of interventions regarding social skills, resilience and insecurity. The project is funded by a grant from The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research - Health Research and Development (NWO-ZONMW).

The project is coordinated by researchers of the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) and conducted in collaboration with multiple partners. Minne Fekkes of TNO is the project leader. Developmental psychologist Anne Miers of Leiden University is one of the partners. The grant enables her to work on this project for one day a week during two years, starting in January 2017.

Public Speaking Anxiety – exposure or restructuring cognitions?

Anne Miers will be responsible for the subproject investigating the efficacy of interventions for public speaking anxiety. She will design an experiment comparing two techniques for behaviour modification and symptom reduction: cognitive restructuring and exposure. In the cognitive restructuring condition, youth with high levels of public speaking anxiety will learn to replace unrealistic (negative) thoughts with more realistic ones. In the exposure condition, they will obtain experience with speaking in front of an audience. The experiment will show which of these techniques is most successful at reducing public speaking anxiety.

Interventions in three domains

In addition to collaborating with TNO, Anne Miers is involved in the supervision of a PhD-student from the University of Amsterdam, who will assist her in the subproject about public speaking anxiety. Two other subprojects will investigate interventions aimed at increasing resilience and self-confidence and at prosocial behaviour and positive social relations. All three experiments aim to clarify the efficacy of specific components of intervention programmes: which component of the programme contributes most to the desired outcome?

Effective treatment

The overarching project combines several approaches to get an overview of common interventions and their efficacy. In addition to the new experiments, there will be a broad consultation of experts in the field, existing data will be analysed and a meta-analysis will be conducted on previously reported findings. The aim of the project is to select a limited number of interventions worthy of recommendation in order to increase the number of children who receive a treatment that works.

(March 16/ Esther van den Bos)

The research project 'Public Speaking Anxiety – exposure or restructuring cognitions?' is part of the research programme Social Anxiety and School Refusal.

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