Aymerich-Franch, L. & Bailenson, J.N. (2014). The use of doppelgangers in virtual reality to treat public speaking anxiety: a gender comparison. Proceedings of the International Society for Presence Research Annual Conference. March, 17-19, Vienna, Austria.
The present study explores the potential of using doppelgangers — virtual humans that highly resemble the real self but behave independently in conjunction with a visualization technique to reduce public speaking anxiety and compares it to the traditional form of visualization through imagination. Moreover, it explores gender differences in the efficacy of the techniques. Forty-one participants were assigned to one of two conditions (visualization with a doppelganger or visualization through imagination) in which they went through a relaxation process before giving a speech. In the condition of visualization through imagination, participants listened to a script that encouraged them to imagine themselves giving a successful speech. In the doppelganger condition, participants listened to the same script but were in virtual reality at the same time, where they watched a doppelganger, whose face was modeled from their face, performing a successful speech. There was an interaction between condition and gender for state anxiety and self-perceived communication competence, such that the doppelganger technique worked better in males than in females whereas the imagination technique worked better in females than in males.