Social anxiety disorder is one of the most prevalent psychological disorders in our society today. Although Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is considered a gold standard for the treatment of anxiety disorders, some individuals do not respond to CBT, and other approaches to treatment continue to be investigated. One alternative approach is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which has been used successfully to treat social anxiety, and has also tentatively been shown to be effective for increasing public speaking performance. The current study compared the effects of brief acceptance- and cognitive-control-based intervention protocols on public speaking performance in socially-anxious college students who took part in a lab-based public speaking task. Participants prepared and gave a 5-minute impromptu speech, and outcome data were collected concerning anxiety, avoidance, and distress. Results indicated that participants in the ACT and CBT conditions did not significantly differ in terms of public speaking performance, nor did they display a significant reduction in anxiety following the speech. Participants in the ACT condition did report significantly lower levels of experiential avoidance post-speech, indicating that the acceptance-based intervention was working via the proposed mechanism of action. These findings promote the feasibility and use of brief interventions, and shed light on the importance of developing techniques to increase public speaking performance.


Jeffrey Buchanan

Committee Member

Bradley Arsznov

Committee Member

Barry Ries

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)




Social and Behavioral Sciences



Rights Statement

In Copyright