Stanford University

The use of doppelgangers in virtual reality to treat public speaking anxiety: a gender comparison

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.

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Abstract

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.

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