Socially anxious? – perhaps this Flinders research trial could help



Joshua Green and his Supervisor Dr Junwen Chen from the College of Education, Psychology & Social Work are running a study that might be of interest if you struggle with social anxiety.

Socially anxious people fear being judged negatively by other people. As you can imagine this makes interactions with people, which are a part of daily life, very challenging.

Socially anxious people display a couple of mental tendencies that contribute to this anxiety. First, they tend to experience negative images of themselves performing poorly when in feared social situations. For example, someone who is socially anxious who needs to do a public presentation, will tend to imagine themselves doing a bad job of that presentation and being embarrassed and ridiculed.

Second, they tend to evaluate ambiguous social situations (social situations that aren’t really negative or positive) as consistently negative – that is, they tend to assume the worst.

Both of these contribute to feelings of anxiety, which then impair their performance in social situations.

Joshua and Junwen are looking at whether using verbal and video feedback can help modify these tendencies in regards to public speaking.

If you are a student who struggles with social anxiety and speaking in public, this might be an excellent study to take part in.


What will I be asked to do?

You will be invited to attend an in-person session where you will be asked to 1) undertake cognitive assessment tasks by viewing a series of words on a computer and pressing a button as quick as you can, 2) perform two 3-minute talks before completing questionnaires in relation to your feelings and experiences relating to the speech you give. You will present your talk in front of a live audience and your talk will be recorded by video in order to be evaluated. The questionnaires and tasks will take around 75mins.

If you are a first year psychology student, you will receive credit towards psych 1102. If you are not a first-year psychology student, you will receive $30 for your time. Information gained from the study will remain confidential and anonymous. Your participation is completely voluntary.

Information sheet


That sounds uncomfortable, why would I do it?

I get it. If you are socially anxious, the description above is probably a bit confronting.

But here’s the thing. We know from decades of psychological research that confronting fears is the most reliable way to address them. It can be uncomfortable, but incredibly valuable.

By taking part in this study you may gain insights into your own social anxiety and take steps forward to addressing it. You also contribute valuable information that may help psychologists improve treatments for social anxiety.

Plus it is a research study, so you have the right to require a rest, or refuse to answer any questions or participate in any tasks and you are free to withdraw your participation at any time without reason or consequence. Basically you have a lot to gain, and not much to lose.


Ok, I’ll give it a crack

Nice work! I admire your courage.

Start by reading the formal information sheet. It is important to read this first so you understand the study and your involvement in it.

Then, if you are a first-year psychology student, visit this link to complete the initial screening questionnaire. All other students should visit this link to complete the initial screening questionnaire.


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