Social anxiety disorder is one of the most prevalent psychological disorder to date and it is associated with impairments in multiple domains, such as in occupational and academic settings. Although, traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), aims to reduce distress by altering maladaptive schemas, this approach is not always successful. Recent research has shown ambiguous support for cognitive restructuring as a mechanism of change. Therefore, further research is needed to discover effective treatments. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), emphasizes psychological flexibility and values rather controlling negative thoughts. The current study compared brief acceptance and cognitive control based interventions for increasing performance on a public speaking task. It was hypothesized that participants in CBT and ACT conditions will exhibit greater reduction of anxiety following the speech task compared to the psychoeducational control group. It was also hypothesized that the acceptance based intervention will lead to greater increases in performance compared to other two protocols. Participants were college students at a Midwestern public university and were then randomized to receive an acceptance, cognitive-control, or psychoeducational-based protocol. Participants then prepared and gave 5-minute autobiographical speech in front of an audience of two research assistants. Results indicated that participants in either ACT, CBT, or Control conditions did not significantly differ in public speaking performance, nor did differ on physiological anxiety, subjective distress and experiential avoidance. These findings promote the utility of brief interventions and promote the importance of continuing to develop techniques that increase public speaking performance.


Jeffrey Buchanan

Committee Member

Kari Much

Committee Member

Bradley Arsznov

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)




Social and Behavioral Sciences



Rights Statement

In Copyright