THE EFFECTS OF STRESS INOCULATION TRAINING AND
CONVERSATION SKILLS TRAINING ON SHY
(COMMUNICATION-APPREHENSIVE) COLLEGE STUDENTS
JAMES E. SELLERS
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
To My Parents
Eugene Wilson Sellers
Edna Fetzer Sellers
In memory of my father whose love for his wife and children
was made evident through his devotion to his work and faithful
attention to our needs.
In honor of my mother whose affection and altruism led to a
sense of love among us which time cannot alter.
I would like to thank the following individuals for their support
and guidance during my graduate years at the University of Florida
and specifically for their assistance with this dissertation.
Larry Loesch served as the chairperson of my doctoral committee
and offered his wise consult on this work.
Everette Hall provided challenging questions and the psychological
support and guidance throughout my graduate years. He has become a
colleague and a friend whom I trust and respect deeply.
Max Parker monitored my progress and seemed to offer his support
at just the right times along the way.
Betsy Altmaier deserves a great deal of my appreciation for it
was she who recognized my professional assets and potentials early in
my graduate years at the University of Florida. This recognition came
at a time when I was dissolutioned with my graduate program. The support
continued at the University of Iowa where she served as a valued
adviser and colleague. She and her husband Michael have become good
friends. I remain indebted to them both.
Ben Barger agreed to offer his advice and support at a crucial
time in my doctoral program. I greatly appreciate his help.
David Priddy offered his expertise in statistics and also served
as a group leader. I appreciate his assistance in this work and I
value his friendship.
Finally, I would like to thank my mother for her support and
patience and my friends, especially, Elaine, Sally, Maureen, Susan
and Wayne for their consistent support and affection. I am thankful
for their presence in my life.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF FIGURES
ABSTRACT . .
I. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . .
Overview of Shyness ........
Theoretical Assumptions .. . ........
Statement of Problem ......
Need . .. . . .
Statement of Purpose ......
Research Hypotheses . . . . . . . .
Definition of Terms ........
II. REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE .. . .......
Construct of Shyness . . . . . . . . .
Public and Private Self-Consciousness .. ....
Private Shyness and Public Shyness ...
Shy and Not-Shy . . . . . . . . .
The Behavioral Criteria for Shyness .. ....
Overview of Related Theories and Research in Oral
Communication Studies .......
State versus Trait Apprehension .. ......
Social Skills Research and Training ....
Overview . ...
The Role of Controlling Variables in Shyness
TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued)
Conversation Skills Training . . . . . . .
Coping Skills Training and Stress Inoculation Training .
Summary of the Related Literature . . . . . .
III. METHODOLOGY ..... . . . . ..... 43
Introduction . . . . . . . . .. . 43
Research Design . . . . ... ......... 43
Instrumentation .... . . . . . . . 44
Sampling .. . . . . . . . . . 46
Procedure . . . . . . . .. . . 48
Treatment Conditions . . . . . . . . 49
Data Collection and Analysis . . . . . . . 51
Limitations of the Research . . . . . .... 51
IV. RESULTS . . ... . . . .... 54
Analysis of Pretest Scores . . . . . . . 54
Social Interaction and Self-Statement Test (SISST) . 54
Social Avoidance and Distress Scale (SAD) . . . 56
V. DISCUSSION ...... . . . . . . 59
Hypotheses Testing . . . . . . .. . 59
Findings .. . . . . . . . . . 61
Limitations . . . .. . . . . . . 63
Conclusions . . . . . . . .... . .. 66
Recommendations ... . . . . . . 67
Implications for the Counseling Profession . .. 67
Implications for Future Research . . . ... 69
APPENDIX A. SOCIAL AVOIDANCE AND DISTRESS SCALE
THE SOCIAL INTERACTION SELF-STATEMENT TEST .... 71
APPENDIX B. REVISED SHYNESS SURVEY AND PRCA-COLLEGE . ... 75
APPENDIX C. A MANUAL FOR STRESS INOCULATION TRAINING . . .. 77
APPENDIX D. A MANUAL FOR SOCIAL SKILLS TRAINING . . . .. 109
APPENDIX E. INFORMED CONSENT . . . . . . . . 130
TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued)
APPENDIX F. INFORMED CONSENT FORM . . ..... . .. . 131
APPENDIS G. INFORMED CONSENT FORM . . . . ... ..... . 133
REFERENCES . .. . . . . . . . . . .. . . 135
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . . .. . . 140
LIST OF TABLES
Threctic and Parmia Traits . . . . . .
Results of MANOVA . . . . . . . .
SISST Means . . . . . . . . . .
SAD Means . . . . . . . . . .
Groups ... . . . . . . . . ...
. . . 22
. . . 55
. . . 57
. . . 57
. . . 57
LIST OF FIGURES
SISST . . . . . . . ... . . . . . . 58
SAD . . . . . .. . . . . . .. 58
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
THE EFFECTS OF STRESS INOCULATION TRAINING AND
CONVERSATION SKILLS TRAINING ON SHY
(COMMUNICATION-APPREHENSIVE) COLLEGE STUDENTS
James E. Sellers
Chairman: Larry Loesch, Ph.D.
Major Department: Counselor Education
The purpose of this study was to measure the treatment effects of
two group counseling strategies, each of which employs distinctive tech-
niques for the amelioration of the negative effects of shyness, specifi-
cally, communication-apprehension in socially anxious college students.
The effects of stress inoculation training, a cognitive-behavioral inter-
vention, were compared to the effects of communication skills training, a
social skills intervention, using no-treatment control group.
The results of this study revealed that the shy individuals in the
two treatment groups became less socially apprehensive, less likely to
avoid social situations, and less anxious in social situations requiring
interpersonal communication when compared to the no-treatment control
group. Both treatment groups made significant changes on the Social
Avoidance and Distress Scale. The results on the Social Interaction and
Self-Statement Test were not conclusive when compared to the no-treatment
control group. Neither the conversation skills training group nor the
stress inoculation training group reported significant decreases in
their negative cognitions regarding interpersonal communication.
This dissertation acquaints the reader with a review of the relevant
literature on shyness from the counseling and psychological perspectives
and the communication studies perspective. Conclusions based on the
outcome of the research are offered. Implications for the counseling pro-
fession and for continued research are also offered.
Overview of Shyness
In recent years, shyness has been identified as an insidious per-
sonal problem that has reached near epidemic proportions. According to
Philip Zimbardo (1977), Director of the Stanford Shyness Clinic, shy-
ness has become a prevalent condition worthy of being considered a
social disease. Moreover, recent demographic information suggests that
millions of people have been, or are currently afflicted with this con-
dition, a condition which Zimbardo convincingly refers to as "the people
Shyness affects a wide range of people and is often incorrectly
viewed as an exclusive problem of children rather than adults. Research,
however, has documented shyness as a pervasive problem for all age
groups. The current literature on shyness in adults reveals men and
women appear to be affected equally in the general population, but at
the college age level, a slightly higher percentage of college men are
shy. While this affliction may be carried on from childhood, it may
also emerge in adulthood without prior incidence. According to
Zimbardo (1977), shyness affects individuals at various stages in their
lives. In point of fact, newly shy adults make up about half of those
who consider themselves as "presently shy." This suggests shyness is
a condition that can affect people at any age, at any time.
Few researchers have chosen to investigate shyness and little has
been done that would significantly change our perceptions of shy people.
Shyness remains misunderstood as a "simple" human condition, and it is
often overlooked as a developmental issue that children face and over-
The information that is available points to investigations by a
number of theorists. A cursory review of these investigations reveals
the existence of five major schools of thought. The personality-trait
theorists, e.g., Cattell, explain shyness as an inherited trait passed
on through generations much like physical and mental traits of height
and intelligence. Behaviorists, e.g., Rehm, view shyness as a learned
condition perpetuated by environmental reinforcers. Positive and nega-
tive reinforcers and aversive conditioning are thought to play major
roles in the development and continuation of shy behaviors. Psycho-
analytic theorists, e.g., Kaplan, view shyness as a symptom of conscious
and unconscious intrapsychic conflicts. Sociologists, e.g., Zimbardo,
believe the influence of human interaction with society is a significant
factor not to be overlooked. Finally, social psychologists, e.g., Buss,
suggest that shyness is an attribution imposed by one's self or by
others in a social environment.
Cattell (1965) has described his personality-trait perspective on
shyness in terms of a series of basic traits. These traits are iden-
tified through the use of a personality inventory. This inventory in-
cludes a number of basic traits which are identified by an analysis of
the individual's responses on the inventory. These traits are compared
to the traits that emerge for parents and children. In this fashion,
Cattell (1965) supports the postulate of inherited personality traits
which he calls the "H factor." This factor serves as the basis for the
isolation of a shy personality.
The H factor includes a positive and negative valence. The H
positive factor describes a trait for boldness while the H negative
factor describes a trait for susceptibility to threat otherwise
referred to as "threctia." The individual who is sensitive and acquies-
cent and who disengages or avoids conflict and threatening events
represents the threctia trait. This H negative personality type is
thought to be inherited and resistant to change throughout one's life.
The major caveat of this theory is that it is deterministic in
nature. This perspective tends to discredit the basic tenets of the
counseling profession since it refutes the assumption that people can
modify and change their behaviors.
In distinction to the personality-trait theorists, behaviorists
describe shyness as a learned condition, which, presumably, can be
unlearned or deconditioned. According to Zimbardo (1977), modern
behaviorists regard shyness as a learned phobic reaction to aversive
stimuli. For example, Zimbardo (1977) suggests this learning may be
the result of
1. A prior history of negative experiences with people
in certain situations, either by direct contact or
by watching others getting embarrassed,
2. Not learning the correct social skills,
3. Expecting to perform inadequately and therefore
becoming constantly anxious about one's performance,
4. Reinforcement for self-effacing behavior. (p. 61)
The perspective of the behaviorists is much more optimistic. If
shyness is a learned response to aversive or reinforcing paradigms,
then shyness is capable of being unlearned by learning adaptive social
skills and techniques to reduce social anxiety.
The psychoanalytic perspective on shyness is deeply ingrained in
the investigation of intrapsychic events. In strict Freudian parlance,
shyness may be understood as a reaction to the conflict arising between
the id, ego, and superego. The id seeks gratification of the basic sex
and aggression needs as their expression. The conflict which arises
helps to illustrate the ego which is reserved, cautious, and reticent.
According to Kaplan (1972), "shyness may be a response to a psychic
trait at virtually any level of psychosexual development and may repre-
sent a part of a fundamental 'loss complex' susceptible in the normal,
neurotic, narcissistic, schizophrenic and immature personality"
(p. 439). Other psychoanalytic explanations suggest that shyness is
similar to narcissistic mortification in which the individual fears a
loss of bodily control, excessive display of ostentation, realization
of personal inferiority, a fear of dialogues, and the fear of being
The salient caveat to the psychoanalytic interpretation of shyness
is the assumption that understanding intrapsychic conflicts will lead
to a change in behavior. This assumption has been scrutinized by
researchers including Zimbardo (1977) over the years and little con-
vincing support exists for this therapeutic approach over others.
Sociologists have come to explain shyness as an ecological pro-
blem. Specifically, shyness is viewed as a symptom of a society which
suffers from a loss of community and togetherness. The child growing
up in a broken home, or a child who moves from one community to another
represents an example of a child who becomes shy as a result of social
influences. Increased mobility or temporary living arrangements rarely
provide the individual with the opportunity to experience consistency,
community, or intimacy in a relationship. This leads Zimbardo (1977)
to assert that Americans are becoming "not only a nation of strangers,
but a nation of lonely strangers" (p. 71).
From the sociologist's point of view, shyness is an immense
social problem which should be treated on a societal level. In a
study of social mobility, Ziller (1973) identified loneliness as a
growing social phenomena. Zimbardo (1977) has suggested that shy
individuals are engulfed in the "social forces" of loneliness and have
become shy simply because interpersonal contact in a mobile society
makes intimacy difficult to achieve. Preventing or helping individuals
overcome aspects of their shyness or loneliness at the societal level,
however, is difficult and impractical; changing social patterns seems
not only impractical, but also impossible.
Social psychologists tend to view shyness in terms of the attri-
bution theory. In general, this theory suggests that individuals
acquire labels of being shy. This label is applied by others and
learned by the individual. The individual thereby learns to be shy
because of being labelled shy by others. Labelling is a common and
convenient experience according to Zimbardo (1977); however, labels
often are incorrect. They also may reveal more about the values of the
person labelling others than of the person gaining the label. Unfor-
tunately, these labels also may result in an indelible mark upon its
recipient and make it more difficult for people to unlearn shy behaviors
and to acquire more adaptive social attributes.
Statement of Problem
Shyness has affected a wide range of people. In studies involving
more than five thousand individuals in this and other cultures, Zimbardo,
Pilkonis, and Norwood (1975), Zimbardo (1977), and Pilkonis (1977),
have portrayed shyness as a complex and almost universal problem. The
data compiled through the Stanford Shyness Clinic have revealed that
80% of those individuals questioned reported feeling shy at one time
in their life; 40% regarded themselves as presently shy; 25% reported
being what the researchers consider chronically shy; and 4% reported
being shy all of the time with virtually all people. Indeed, only 7%
of the individuals surveyed reported never experiencing shyness.
Underscoring the percentages of those afflicted with shyness is
the description of the effects of the condition on its subjects.
Zimbardo, Pilkonis, and Norwood (1975) list what they call the "Break-
down on shyness":
1. Social problems in meeting new people, making new
friends or enjoying potentially good experiences;
2. Negative emotional correlates such as depression,
isolation and loneliness;
3. Difficulty in being appropriately assertive or
expressing opinions and values;
4. Confusing others. Shyness makes it harder for other
people to perceive the person's real assets;
5. Poor self-projection allows others to make totally
incorrect evaluations. For example, shy people may
strike others as being snobbish, bored, unfriendly,
6. Deficiency in thinking clearly and communicating
effectively in the presence of others;
7. Self-consciousness and excessive preoccupation with
one's own reactions. (p. 69)
Regarding the seven consequences listed above, Zimbardo, Pilkonis
and Norwood (1975) suggest that they are so extreme that more than
50% of the shy respondents surveyed declared they would seek
counseling for their problem and would visit a shyness clinic if one
Findings like this have done much to support the efforts being
made on behalf of the shy individual. Further, the compilation of data
gleaned from surveys has demonstrated shyness as a pervasive phenomena
worthy of being investigated and treated by professional counselors.
According to Zimbardo et al. (1975), the paucity of attention to this
phenomena, however, confirms the contention that "most psychologists
haven't taken shyness seriously enough" (p. 69).
The need for effective counseling and research in this area is
clear if counselors are to understand and perhaps help to lessen the
deleterious effects shyness has upon its subjects.
The present body of knowledge regarding shyness includes a
variety of psychological and counseling theories and their concomitant
techniques. Some theorists, as previously cited, appear to have little
in common with other theorists and their distinctive techniques appear
to document their differences. Unfortunately, the literature has not
consistently supported one approach over another. Therefore, the need
for continued validation of these approaches to the understanding and
amelioration of the negative effects of shyness is necessary if coun-
selors are to offer effective interventions with shy persons.
The practice of counselors may be affected by investigations
which compare and contrast two counseling approaches. Specifically,
counselors will be able to expand their repertoire of skills if new
techniques are tested and recommended by researchers in the field.
In addition, training programs for counselors may begin to place a
greater emphasis on preparing counselors to impart social skills and/or
techniques geared at alleviating the extreme social anxiety which the
shy individual experiences. On the basis of this research for example,
counselors may begin to adopt counseling strategies which teach clients
remedial conversation skill and deconditioning techniques for the an-
xiety that results from engaging in, or preparing to engage in, inter-
personal communication, or it may suggest that counselors help clients
change their negative self-statements regarding their social anxiety.
Finally, this research will prove helpful to the practitioners
and the theorists who are investigating shyness since it compares and
constrasts the effect of two counseling strategies. The outcome of
this study may help to support existing theories while encouraging
new ideas and continued research in the area.
Statement of Purpose
The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of two coun-
seling strategies upon communication-apprehensive college students.
The present body of knowledge on shyness and communication-
apprehension includes research in psychological and sociological
theories, and to some extent, research in communication studies. This
paper includes an overview which clarifies the theoretical viewpoint
held by the various theorists and researchers in these areas. In
addition, this study sheds light on the current approaches to the
amelioration of communication-apprehensiveness among college students.
The primary assumption involved in this research was the belief
that there existed a counseling strategy or strategies which can be
effective in counseling shy people. The effectiveness of the strate-
gies was determined by the extent to which the individual reported a
decrease in social distress and avoidance and negative self-statements.
Another assumption was that social skills and stress reduction tech-
niques could be taught to shy individuals and that these techniques
could help them engage in interpersonal communication without experi-
encing debilitating social distress.
This research measured the treatment effects of stress inocula-
tion training and conversation skills training. With regard to the
former, stress inoculation training is defined as a cognitive-beha-
vioral approach which combines selected techniques from behavior
therapy, i.e., progressive muscle relaxation, with a cognitive ap-
proach, i.e., cognitive restructuring. This cognitive-behavioral
approach is considered semantic in nature because it is based on the
individual's awareness of the role of self-statements (cognitions)
in the arousal of anxiety.
In distinction to the cognitive-behavioral approach, the other
was based on the teaching of adaptive social skills. Communication
skills training as defined by Gambrill (1977), and Zimbardo (1977) was
employed for use in the social skills training approach. This approach
included the use of techniques such as behavioral rehearsal and home-
work assignments. Social skills were included to increase the targeted
behavior of improved conversation skills, and to lessen the shy indi-
vidual's social anxiety.
- 10 -
Demographic statistics indicate that shyness affects men and
women equally except for men and women in college. In this case, more
men than women have reported being shy. While research in all age
groups is prudent, this research focused on the college and university
On the doorstep of adulthood, the college student leaves the
familiar environments of family and friends and enters into a social
environment rich in social interactions that demand social adeptness.
Over time, the majority of students emerge from this experience with
fairly good social skills. Some, however, fail to engage in the
social experience. These people are destined to become reclusiveand
lonely throughout their lives. Research geared toward the understan-
ding of shyness is needed for it may help counselors develop effective
strategies to help the shy person avoid this kind of life style.
Therefore, this research was conducted in a university setting where
the student population could serve as the pool from which shy subjects
could be identified and included in the study.
Over the years, a number of approaches to the treatment of shy-
ness have been investigated. They range from psychoanalysis (Kaplan,
1972) to the use of behavior modification (Rehm and Marston, 1968).
The more traditional approaches have viewed the shy individual's
behavior as a consequence of intrapsychic disorders and therefore,
insight was prescribed for the client. A traditional psychoanalytic
approach was not used in this research because insight alone was not
considered to be an effective means by which to change behaviors and
attitudes about shyness.
- 11 -
The behavior modification and social skills approaches, on the
other hand, have successfully been used in the treatment of anxiety
associated with the individual's shyness. Systematic desensitization
and various reinforcement paradigms have enjoyed validation over the
years. It was for this reason social skills training was adopted for
use in this research, which compares an accepted approach with a new,
previously untested approach, viz, stress inoculation training. As
explicated by Meichenbaum (1977), stress inoculation training has
been supported by some research in the areas of test anxiety and pho-
bias, but in general, it has lacked empirical validation in other
areas, i.e., shyness research. Social skills training on the other
hand, has gained validation through a wide variety of studies inclu-
ding research on heterosocial anxiety in college students (Twentyman
and McFall, 1975). Therefore it seemed appropriate to include an
already accepted approach in this research. Other related approaches
have made use of individual and group counseling, assertiveness trai-
ning, and rational-emotive psychotherapy. As documented in the
following chapter, these strategies are also supported by research
by various investigators.
In summary, this research compared two different counseling stra-
tegies and their relative effectiveness with the results from a no-
treatment control group. It was conducted in order to determine
whether one, both, or either would be helpful in diminishing
conversation-apprehension in college students.
- 12 -
This research addressed four directional hypotheses as they re-
late to communication-apprehensive college students.
1. Subjects in the communication skills training treatment
group would report a reduction of their communication-apprehension
when compared to the no-treatment control group as measured on the
Social Avoidance and Distress scale (SAD).
2. Subjects in the communication skills training treatment
group would report a reduction of their communication-apprehension
when compared to the no-treatment control group as measured on the
Social Interaction and Self-Statement Test (SISST).
3. Subjects in the stress inoculation training group would
report a reduction of their communication-apprehension compared to
the no-treatment control group as measured on the SAD.
4. Subjects in the stress inoculation training group would
report a reduction of their communication-apprehension when compared
to the no-treatment control group as measured on the SISST.
Therefore, it was postulated that the subjects in each of the
two treatment groups would report a reduction of their social avoi-
dance and distress regarding interpersonal communication. It was also
postulated that the subjects in each of the two treatment groups
would report a reduction of their negative self-statements regarding
- 13 -
Definition of Terms
Communication-apprehension is defined by McCroskey (1977) as "an
individual's level of fear or anxiety associated with either
real or anticipated communication with another person or
persons" (p. 78).
Communication skills are defined by Gambrill and Richey (1975) and
Zimbardo (1977) as skills which make use of oral and nonverbal
skills which help individuals initiate, maintain, and terminate
a conversation with another person or persons. These skills
include accurate observations, information gathering through
statements and open and closed-ended questions, appropriate
self-disclosure regarding something about the self, good eye
contact, congruent facial expressions, facilitation of body
movements and posture and active listening.
Coping Skills Training, according to Mahoney and Arnkoff (1978), is
a self-instructional procedure designed to help the client
facilitate adaptive behaviors and cognitions which will abate the
stress and anxiety associated with specific events or situations.
Self-Statements (or cognitions) are defined by Meichenbaum (1977) as
the internal dialogue in which an individual engages over environ-
mental reactions and internal feelings and thoughts.
Shyness has been defined by Pilkonis (2977) as "a tendency to avoid
social interactions and to fail to participate in social situa-
tions" (p. 596). Augmenting this definition is one offered by
Lewinsky (1941) which makes use of cognitive and behavioral
- 14 -
A state of hyperinhibition usually accompanied by
physical symptoms like blushing, stammering, perspi-
ring, trembling, going pale, accesory movements, and
increased urinal and fecal urges. The mental state is
described by the individual as feeling inferior, of not
being wanted, or intruding. (p. 105)
Social Anxiety, as defined by Buss (1980), refers to discomfort in
the presence of others and specifically, being disturbed or up-
set by the scrutiny or remarks of others, or merely being uncom-
fortable in the presence of others.
Social Skills, as defined by Libet and Lewinsohn (1973)', refers to
"the complex ability both to emit behaviors which are positively
or negatively reinforced and not to emit behaviors which are
punished or extinguished by others" (p. 304).
Social Skills Training is defined as the variety of techniques used
in counseling to improve an individual's interpersonal function-
ing. Some of the techniques used include skills acquisition,
behavioral rehearsal, self-monitoring, feedback and homework
assignments (Gambrill, 1977).
Stress Inoculation Training is defined by Meichenbaum (1977) as a
coping skills training procedure which combines semantic and
Overview of Remainder of Paper
This dissertation follows the five chapter model as described by
Isaac and Michael (1971). In Chapter II, a review of the related li-
terature is presented. This review acquaints the reader with the rele-
vant literature on shyness and communication-apprehension. The li-
terature is presented from two perspectives: the counseling and
- 15 -
psychological perspective and the communication studies perspec-
In Chapter III, a description of the research is presented.
This chapter includes a description of the methodology, research
design, the selection of subjects, instrumentation, procedures, data
collection and the statistical approaches, methodological limitations
Chapter IV presents the analysis and evaluation of the research
and specifically, each of the research hypotheses.
The final chapter presents conclusions based on the results of
the research and recommendations for continued research in shyness
REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE
The review of the related literature has been divided into six
major areas. The first area discusses the construct of shyness with
regard to public and private self-consciousness, the privately and
publically shy individual, who is shy and who is not shy, and the
behavioral components of shyness.
The second area concerns the theory and research on oral appre-
hension. In this area, shyness is viewed from the communication
studies camp. This perspective will augment the literature on shyness
found in research in psychology. A definition of communication-
apprehension and a differentiation between state and trait
communication-apprehension are elucidated.
In the third major area, social skills research and training is
reviewed with an emphasis on controlling variables in shyness and how
those variables interact in research and training in social skills.
Conversation skills training paradigms are briefly discussed in
the fourth area. Treatment strategies from two primary researchers
In the fifth area, stress inoculation training is introduced as
a coping skill therapy and the primary objectives in therapy are
Finally, a summary of the related literature is provided to inte-
grate the major themes of this research.
- 17 -
Construct of Shyness
Shyness is a term which extends across a broad continuum of
human behaviors. It is, according to Lewinsky (1941), "a social
phenomenon which is expressed by behaviors and only in relation to
other human beings" (p. 8). In this early conceptualization of shyness,
Lewinsky describes three main factors and three aspects of the construct
The main factors identified by Lewinsky (1941) are fear, shame
and mistrust. The fear of being misunderstood either in speech
or motive, or the fear of being ridiculed by others accounts for one
of the factors. The second factor cited is shame. Lewinsky describes
the individual as being ashamed of being dependent upon others. This
dependence is viewed by the shy individual as a portrayal of vulner-
ability and susceptibility to social criticism. In addition, the
shy person also is described as suffering from the shame of ignorance
or the fear of appearing less intelligent, less informed than others
in the social environment. The third factor in shyness is mistrust.
This is described as the mistrust of others which develops over time
as shy persons begin to view others as people who will ridicule,
embarrass, or in some fashion, punish them.
Shyness in behavioral terms has been defined by Lewinsky (1941)
and includes symptoms such as blushing, or going pale, stammering,
trembling, perspiring, accessory movements and in general, increased
hyperinhibition. The concomitant psychological state includes the
feeling of inferiority, feelings of intruding on others and the dubious
- 18 -
propensity to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. According to
Lewinsky, the shy individual struggles with these issues and as a result,
becomes overly self-conscious and interpersonally sensitive.
In describing the emergence of shyness as a social phenomenon,
Lewinsky (1941) places much of the blame on our system of educating
students. He suggests that shyness is "an effect of education" (p.
109). Citing surveys in which teachers appear to tolerate and en-
courage shyness among students, Lewinsky asserts that the quiet,
acquiescent student is positively reinforced for behaving in a shy
With regard to character and personality issues, the researcher
suggests that the shy person belongs to a group of narcissistic
characters with mainly negative and egocentric tendencies, although
the shy person may appear to be altruistic. He further describes the
individual as being rigid, consistently on guard, and fearful of new
experiences and new situations.
This view of shyness is rooted in psychopathology and is closely
related to psychoneuroses and schizophrenia. In more recent litera-
ture on psychopathology, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM
III, 1980) sheds some light on various anxiety disorders which may
fit into the conceptualization made by Lewinsky. Among these disor-
ders is a condition referred to as social phobia. This condition is
defined as a "persistent irrational fear of, and compelling desire to
avoid situations in which the individual may be exposed to scrutiny
by others. There is also fear that the individual may behave in a
manner that will be humiliating or embarrassing" (p. 227). Examples
- 19 -
of social phobias include the fear of public speaking and the fear
of performing in public. The DSM III suggests there is a significant
amount of distress associated with social phobias and that this
disturbance is recognized by individuals as irrational and excessive.
A closely related state which may be identified by a differential
diagnosis is the avoidant personality disorder. According to the
DMS III (1980), the diagnostic criteria are:
A. Hypersensitivity to rejection, e.g., apprehensively
alert to signs of social derogation, interprets
innocuous events as ridicule.
B. Unwillingness to enter into relationships unless
given unusually strong guarantee of uncritical
C. Social withdrawal, e.g., distances self from close
personal attachments, engages in peripheral social
and vocational roles.
D. Desire for affection and acceptance.
E. Low self-esteem, e.g., devalues self-achievements
and is overly dismayed by personal shortcomings.
While the DSM III does not list shyness as a clinical syndrome,
it is clear that some behavioral criteria listed for the above per-
sonality disorder does relate to the layman's interpretation of shy-
ness as a human condition. This manual, therefore, adds credibility
to the effects of this condition and the movement to consider shyness
in a more serious manner.
Others have been influenced in developing the construct of shy-
ness over recent years. Kaplan (1972) views shyness in a more psycho-
dynamic light. He suggests that "shyness may be a response to psychic
trial at virtually any level of psychosexual development and may repre-
sent a part of a fundamental loss complex susceptible in the normal
neurotic, narcissistic, schizophrenic and immature personalities"
(p. 439). Moreover, Kaplan believes that shyness originates with
- 20 -
contradictions in the superego as it relates to the opposing
With reference to the struggle between the superego and the
ego, Kaplan (1972) suggests that shy people have a sense of dread
over the possible loss of bodily functions; a fear of an excessive
display of ostentation; a fear of relevation of personal inferiority,
referred to as narcissistic moritification; a fear of being misunder-
stood and therefore a fear of appearing physically awkward. Shy
people, according to Kaplan, find composure in reticence and acqui-
The psychodynamic perspective has served as the basis from
which personality theorists generate their understanding of person-
ality disorders. Raymond Cattell is one such theorist who has gained
notoriety as a prolific personality theorist. Cattell attempted to
explicate shyness as a bipolar characteristic expression of one's own
personality. He labels these the thretic and parmia poles.
The thretic of the "H factor" describes the individual who is,
. intensely shy, tormented by an unreasonable sense
of inferiority, slow and impeded in expressing himself,
disliking occupations with personal contacts, preferring
one or two close friends to large groups, and not able
to keep in contact with all that is going on around
him. (Cattell, Eber, and Tatsouka, 1970, p. 9)
Cattell views shy people as being overly susceptible to threats
and interpersonal conflict. At the opposite end of the thretic pole
is the parmia pole which is described as the bold, assertive, compe-
The major caveat in the personality theorists' conceptualiza-
tions of shyness is the belief that shyness is a trait determined
by heredity and which is not modifiable by environmental events and
influences. This limits the role of professionals who believe that some
form of psychotherapy or counseling can help to change people, and
therefore it is partially discounted as a viable explanation of shy-
ness by many in the counseling profession.
Perhaps the most exhaustive study on shyness ever to be con-
ducted was developed by Zimbardo, Pilkonis, and Norwood (1975). The
researchers surveyed over five thousand individuals in a study entitled
the Stanford Shyness Survey. This extensive project has provided the
normative data on shyness and has delivered a better understanding of
the construct of shyness.
The investigators conceptualize shyness on a continuum. At one
end is the individual who is more comfortable with a solitary life-
style replete with solitary hobbies, interests and activities which
do not require participation by others. Free-lance writers, forest
rangers and explorers exemplify careers of avocations which are pri-
marily associated with people who appreciate privacy and solitude.
At the middle of the continuum is the shy person who lacks con-
fidence, who is self-effacing, easily intimidated and embarrassed by
others. These people presumably lack the adequate social skills to
initiate or maintain conversations, and/or fear risking the chance
of being embarrassed by others. This social ineptitude and social
anxiety prevents the shy individual from engaging in social situations
which are perceived as inimical.
At the other end of the continuum is the individual who Zimbardo
(1977) considers "chronically shy." These individuals experience
"extreme dread whenever called on to do something in front of people
- 22 -
Threctic and Parmia Traits
Low score on H-
threctic, H- (timid, shy,
retiring in face of
apt to be emibttered
High score on H+
Parmia H+ (adventurous,
"thick skinned," socially
vs. adventurous, likes meeting
vs. active, overt, interest in
vs. responsive, genial
emotional and artistic
vs. carefree, does not see
Cattell, R.B., Eber, H.W., and Tatsouka, M.M. Handbook for the
16 P.F. Champaign, Ill.: I PAT, 1970, p. 91.
- 23 -
and are rendered so helpless by their overwhelming anxiety that their
only alternative is to flee and hide" (p. 33). This condition is
analogous to the previously cited state of the avoidant personality.
Lazarus (1977) describes this condition as self-imprisonment "in which
the person plays the role of the guard who constantly enforced restric-
tive rules and the role of the prisoner who obsequiously follows them"
(p. 9). This condition is most likely to evolve into a psychopatho-
logical state where the individual withdraws from all social situations
and enters into a reclusive state where isolation becomes the conse-
quence. For example, one woman described her chronic shyness in
the following narrative:
I am lonely beyond belief. I live in complete solitude
without a friend in the world, neither male or female.
I have been betrayed many times over and my experiences
in life have left me very unhappy and bitter. I spend
the holidays in complete solitude. It's a period of
great sadness and depression for me and I dread each
approaching holiday more and more because of the inten-
sification of my loneliness at a time when most people
are in the company of friends and relatives. I often
think of ending my life but lack the guts to go through
with it. (Zimbardo, 1977, p. 34)
In addition to the negative effects of shyness, Zimbardo (1977)
also elucidates on the positive side of the condition. Approximately
10 to 20 percent of all those who are shy reportedly like being so.
These people (who are happy with their shyness) believe that being
reserved, modest, and unpretentious is a virtue. It can be per-
ceived as a positive and attractive quality in people, rather than a
weak and passive characteristic. Therefore, as shyness is being con-
ceptualized, it is important for researchers and practitioners to
recognize that shyness does cross a continuum of positive and
- 24 -
Public and Private Self-Consciousness
Another aspect of shyness involves self-consciousness. Zimbardo
(1977) and others suggest that self-consciousness is the most common
characteristic of the shy individual. While self-awareness and in-
sight are important to the healthy personality, Zimbardo asserts that
this tendency toward self-analysis and self-evaluation has led some
individuals to over-scrutinize their behaviors and attitudes. Results
from the Stanford Shyness Survey reveal that approximately 85% of those
surveyed have this compulsion to over-analyze themselves.
Fenigstein, Scheier, and Buss (1975) and Buss (1980) attempt to
explicate the role of self-consciousness and social anxiety in shyness
by differentiating among the constructs of private self-consciousness,
public self-consciousness and social anxiety. Self-consciousness is
defined by the investigators as the tendency for individuals to direct
attention inward in terms of the self, or outward in terms of others.
Private self-consciousness is defined as the attention given to one's
own inner cognitions and feelings. The second construct is public
self-consciousness. It is defined as a general awareness of the self
as a social object that has an effect on other individuals in a social
setting. The third construct of social anxiety refers to the subjective
discomfort that results from the presence of others. According to the
researchers, "public and private self-consciousness refer to the pro-
cess of self-focused attention; social anxiety refers to a reaction to
this process" (Fenigstein, Scheier, and Buss, 1975, p. 253).
In further explanation of the above constructs, the researchers
suggest that private self-consciousness is similar to Jung's personality
- 25 -
type known as introversion. As defined by Jung (1933), introversion
refers to the attitude which orients the individual toward the inner
subjective world. On the other hand, public self-consciousness
differs from private self-consciousness in that it is related to the
self as a social object. According to Mead (1934), self-consciousness
in a public fashion comes about after learning how others view you.
In social anxiety, Fenigstein, Scheier, and Buss (1975); and Buss (1980),
assert that the socially anxious individual first becomes aware of
the self as a social object and then learns to become apprehensive
over the impending evaluation by others. The researchers believe that
public self-consciousness may actually be a necessary antecedent of
Zimbardo (1977) lists the following self-statements as examples
of private self-consciousness:
I'm always trying to figure myself out.
Generally, I'm very aware of myself.
I'm often the subject of my own fantasies.
I always scrutinize myself.
I'm generally attentive to my inner feelings.
I'm constantly examining my motives.
I sometimes have the feeling that I'm off somewhere
I'm alert to changes in my mood.
I am aware of the way my mind works when I work through
a problem. (p. 45)
As is illustrated by the above self-statements, and as recognized
by Pilkonis (1977), privately self-conscious individuals focus on in-
ternal events and the subjective physical discomfort. Publically self-
conscious individuals, in contrast, are concerned over the type of
impression being made and whether others like them. Zimbardo (1977)
lists the following self-statements in reference to the publically self-
- 26 -
I'm concerned about my style of doing things.
I'm concerned about the way I present myself.
I'm self-conscious about the way I look.
I usually worry about making a good impression.
I'm concerned about what other people think of me.
I'm usually aware of my appearance. (pp. 44-45)
Publically self-conscious individuals are overly concerned with
how others are perceiving them. They are concerned that others will
misinterpret their actions and behaviors. This self-consciousness
leads to a state of social anxiety in which the individual worries
about his or her social impression on others. In order to control this
impression, publically self-conscious individuals engage in impression
management. Goffman (1959) first recognized that individuals usually
find it in their best interests to convey positive impressions in social
situations. The individual engaged in this form of management may
wish to present an unfavorable impression in order to gain attention
or to gain a desired outcome.
Private Shyness and Public Shyness
According to Zimbardo (1977) the terms of private and public self-
consciousness may be applied to the understanding of shyness. Zimbardo
suggests that these people often escape detection by others as they
keep their anxiety concealed. They find it difficult to reveal them-
selves to others and in most cases, others fail to detect that they
are shy. In contrast, publically shy individuals, as defined by Zim-
bardo, usually find it difficult to reveal themselves to others. They
are fearful of how others will evaluate them and consequently how they
view themselves. Their self-esteem is usually low and their self
concepts are poor.
- 27 -
Studies to differentiate the privately shy from the publically
shy have been conducted by Zimbardo, Pilkonis, and Norwood (1975),
Pilkonis (1977), and Zimbardo (1977). The results of the investigations
confirm the idea that there are two major types of shyness. Pilkonis
Those persons who are privately shy and focus on internal
events (subjective discomfort, physiological arousal, fear
of negative evaluation) in describing their shyness, and
those persons who are publically shy and regard their
behavioral deficiencies (failure to respond; inappropriate
or awkward responses) as more critical aspects of their
shyness. (p. 597)
In his studies on shyness, Pilkonis (1977) also investigated the
variables of sex, privately shy, and publically shy. He found that
significant differences appeared between privately and publically shy
subjects in speech related behaviors. The publically shy subjects were
more speech-anxious and were less satisfied with their performance
when compared to the privately shy subjects. Pilkonis concluded that
the privately shy subjects performed better because they were able to
focus on the structured task of giving a speech and gave less attention
to the internal events of self-consciousness. He postulates that the
publically shy subjects were more anxious because they tended to focus
on the inadequacies of their speech behaviors. He suggests this public
performance actually exacerbated the publically shy individual's diffi-
Zimbardo (1977) describes the privately shy and the publically shy
in terms of extroversion and introversion. Privately shy extroverts
are characterized by their awareness of what must be done to please
others and how to be accepted by others. "Some people may rise rapidly
- 28 -
in their chosen professions if they are gifted, and even may turn out
to be celebrities. But nobody knows how much it takes to pull-off
that confidence game" (Zimbardo, 1977, p. 48). In contrast to the
privately shy extroverts, the publically shy introverts appear to have
a greater problem with their shyness. They ruminate about their inade-
quate performances, and they usually find it difficult to communicate
their good qualities or even to ask for help. Zimbardo (1977) writes
that publically shy introverts put themselves "in these nonreturnable
self-containers, they don't get the help, advice, recognition and
love everyone needs at one time or another" (p. 47).
Shy and Not-Shy
Pilkonis (1977) also differentiated the shy from the not-shy
individuals by using the variables of verbal behavior, nonverbal beha-
vior, speech measures and affect measures. The major differences
gleaned from the research suggest the. shy individual finds it diffi-
cult to initiate and structure a conversation. In the study, not-shy
individuals displayed a shorter latency period before making their
first verbal utterance. Not-shy individuals also did not differ o'
the average length of their verbal utterances after they began to speak.
This led the researcher to question whether shyness is a result of a
social skills deficit or a lack of desire to employ social skills.
Furthermore, Pilkonis (1977) postulates that shy people who refuse to
take the initiative in conversations, i.e., speaking more frequently
or breaking silences, may exacerbate their anxiety in social situations
by placing themselves in a defensive and dependent posture.
- 29 -
In a related study, Rosenfeld (1966) investigated the nonverbal
components of communication and found that the nonverbal behaviors of
smiling, gesturing, gazing and nodding served an "affiliative" function
in communication. Pilkonis therefore postulated that shy individuals
would display fewer of these affiliative behaviors and greater amounts
of anxiety during heterosocial interactions. The results of the study
conducted by Pilkonis confirmed the main effects of shy and not-shy
behaviors and also the interaction effects between the independent
variables of the sex of the subject and shyness with regard to gazing
and eye contact behaviors. Shy males, for example, made the least
amount of eye contact and both female groups fell between the extremes
of the shy and not-shy males. In addition, the shy females in the
study nodded more often than the three groups while shy and not-shy
women tended to smile more than men. These findings suggest that the
interaction of sex and shyness can be a factor worthy of future investi-
gation. Pilkonis (1977) states:
It appears that shy females, anxious to make a good im-
pression but constrained by a somewhat limited role,
attempted to achieve their goal through frequent nodding
and smiling. Among men, social anxiety created a re-
luctance to talk, look, or make eye contact, among
women, anxiety created a need to be pleasing that was
expressed through nodding and smiling. (p. 603)
The interaction effect of sex and shyness remains an area for
future investigation as researchers attempt to identify and isolate the
behavioral components of shyness.
The Behavioral Criteria for Shyness
An overview of the current literature on shyness reveals the
existence of specific behavioral criteria by which to identify shy
- 30 -
individuals. Gleaned from the Stanford Shyness Survey conducted by
Zimbardo, Pilkonis, and Norwood (1975), the following list represents
overt behaviors and the frequency with which they are experienced by
shy individuals: silence (80%), paucity of eye contact (51%),
avoidance of others (44%), avoidance of taking action (42%), and low
speaking voice (40%). The covert or internal items on shyness in-
clude excessive self-consciousness (85%), concern for impression man-
agement (67%), concern for social evaluation (63%), negative self-
evaluation (59%), and thoughts about shyness (46%). The most frequent
physiological reactions to the condition of shyness include increased
pulse rate (54%), blushing (53%), perspiration (49%), butterflies
in the stomach (48%), and a pounding sensation in the heart (48%).
It is clear that the construct of shyness extends beyond the
layman's definition of timidity and bashfulness. It includes a number
of behavioral criteria and extends across a continuum from adaptive and
socially accepted behaviors to the more reclusive and abberant beha-
viors which are viewed as being psychopathological in nature. Research
and treatment of the shy individual should take into account the many
variables involved in this complex human condition if treatment
strategies are to be efficacious.
Overview of Related Theories and Research
in Oral Communication Studies
Shyness has appeared in psychological and counseling literature
for decades. Over the years, another profession has also investigated
a component of shyness referred to as oral communication apprehension.
This research and theory can be found in the annals of communication
- 31 -
studies. According to McCroskey (1977), over the past forty years
scholars concerned with oral communication-apprehension have investi-
gated the fear or anxiety over interpersonal communication. Therefore,
to assume that psychologists and counselors have been the only profes-
sionals investigating shyness would be fallacious. Lomas (1934), and
more recently, Phillips (1968, 1975), and McCroskey (1970, 1975, 1976),
have observed that some people appear to be more apprehensive orally
than others and that this apprehension often has a negative effect
upon their communication patterns. Specifically, research in oral com-
munication-apprehension has been conducted under the terms of stage
fright, reticence, shyness, audience sensitivity, and oral communica-
tion-apprehension. A review of the related literature on shyness,
therefore, would not be complete without an overview of the related
theories and research in the area of communication studies.
The construct of communication-apprehension should, according to
McCroskey (1977), be considered a "subconstruct of reticence or unwil-
lingness to communicate" (p. 79). It differs from other constructs in
that oral communication-apprehension specifies fear and anxiety as a
causal element. The constructs of audience sensitivity and shyness are
presented by McCroskey as being "essentially similar tothe communica-
tion-apprehension construct" (p. 79).
Communication-apprehension is defined by McCroskey (1977) as "an
individual's level of fear or anxiety associated with either real or
anticipated communication with another person or persons" (p. 79).
- 32 -
State versus Trait Apprehension
Communication-apprehension has been conceptualized as a trait
which affects human performance. Speilberger (1966) and Lamb (1972)
have explicated the terms of state and trait communication-apprehension
by making a clear distinction between the two. Trait apprehension is
viewed as a fear or anxiety of oral communication in a variety of inter-
personal encounters. Speaking in public or in heterosocial dyads
represents the range of such a trait. State apprehension is considered
to be situation specific, e.g., heterosocial encounters only. An
individual exhibiting state apprehension in this area presumably would
have little or no difficulty in other communication encounters.
According to McCroskey (1977), the measurement and research on
state communication-apprehension have focused almost exclusively on stage
fright. Some controversy still remains as research struggles to clarify
the causes of state apprehension in this area. Therefore, the measure-
ment of state apprehension "has been fraught with definitional problems
and conflicts among approaches" (p. 82). On the other hand, research
on trait apprehension has been more consistent and accepted by re-
searchers in the field.
Trait apprehension has been viewed as a cognitively experienced
phenomenon with behavioral components. McCroskey (1977) describes
persons who experience a high level of trait communication-apprehension
by listing three theoretical propositions:
1. People who experience a high level of trait communi-
cation-apprehension will withdraw from and seek to
avoid communication when possible.
2. As a result of their withdrawal from and avoidance
of communication, people who experience a high level
of trait apprehension will be perceived less positively
- 33 -
than people who experience lower levels of trait
3. As a result of their withdrawal and avoidance beha-
viors, and in conjunction with the negative percep-
tions fostered by those behaviors, people who ex-
perience a high level of trait communication-
apprehension will be negatively impacted in terms
of their economic, academic, political and social
lives. (p. 83)
McCroskey (1977) asserts that trait communication-apprehension
"is not characteristic of normal, well-adjusted individuals" (p. 82).
In addition, he states that the extent of this problem is far greater
than most recognize. Studies with college students have revealed that
approximately 20% of students in major universities may be considered
as exhibiting trait communication-apprehension. The breadth of afflic-
tion is surprising and has been referred to by Phillips (1968) as
"pathology of the normal speaker" (p. 39).
Research in oral communication and specifically, oral communication-
apprehension has led to some significant contributions in the literature
on shyness. Perhaps the most noteworthy contribution from this area is
the identification of state and trait communication-apprehension. This
differentiation is an important factor in this research on selected
treatment effects on communication-apprehension.
Social Skills Research and Training
Social skills deficits have been recognized in a wide range of
presenting human problems including antisocial behavior, sexual dys-
function and shyness. The purpose of social skills training is to
alleviate the stressful physiological responses through the teaching
of adaptive skills. According to Gambrill (1977), the roles of anxiety
and skills deficits in interpersonal situations were first recognized
- 34 -
by Salter (1949), and later Wolpe (1958). These individuals identified
a range of situations in which social anxiety occurred and postulated
that social skills could be learned and that these skills could act
as an inhibitory factor of anxiety.
Current literature in social skills training has been used in a
variety of clinical and nonclinical populations including psychiatric
patients (Hersen, 1979), adolescents (Sarason and Ganzer, 1973; Spence
and Mar7iller, 1979); depressed individuals (Lewinsohn, 1974); and shy
college students (McGovern, Arkowitz, and Gilmore, 1975; Twentyman
and McFall, 1975).
Social skills have been defined by Libet and Lewinsohn (1973)
as "the complex ability both to emit behaviors which are positively
or negatively reinforced and not to emit behaviors that are punished or
extinguished by others" (p. 304). Also Weiss (1975) describes social
skills as the ability to develop rapport, express interest and under-
standing in a social context. Social skills, therefore, are essential
in the process of human interaction, and specifically, in interpersonal
communication. A skills deficit in this area may result in shyness at
any point along its continuum. It is for this reason that social skills
training may be a valuable exercise in increasing interpersonal skills
and in alleviating the concomitant anxiety associated with a skills
The Role of Controlling Variables in Shyness
Recent research findings in one area of shyness have helped to
identify four main classes of controlling variables. Galassi and
Galassi (1979), in a review of the research on heterosocial anxiety,
- 35 -
have identified these variables as conditioned anxiety, skills
deficits, cognitive distortions, and physical attractiveness. The
influence of these variables in current research and training for the
socially anxious individual is significant and should be understood by
those considering research and practice in social skills training.
Conditioned anxiety has long been held as a significant factor in
social anxiety. The individual who experiences unpleasant heterosocial
encounters, for example, might be expected to experience an inordinate
amount of anxiety in future heterosocial encounters or at the mere
thought of engaging in these encounters. This anxiety becomes classi-
cally conditioned to the various cues in social situations. Bandura
(1969) underscores the conditioned anxiety theory in social situations
by suggesting that social behaviors are inhibited or blocked by this
anxiety. This model suggests the shy individual can exhibit the appro-
priate social skills if the skills are present and if the conditioned
anxiety can be deconditioned. This model, therefore, supports both
the social skills training approach and the anxiety-reduction approach
since it stresses the need for prerequisite social skills in addition
to anxiety reduction techniques. A study conducted by Hokanson (1972)
exemplifies the conditioned anxiety model of improving social skills.
The researcher employed systematic desensitization as the anxiety
response inhibitor for socially anxious subjects. The subjects decreased
their anxiety in social encounters and felt less inhibited socially.
Other studies using systematic desensitization (Wells, 1970), hypnosis,
(Barker, Cegala, Kibler, and Wahlers, 1972), and biofeedback (Fenton,
Hopf and Beck, 1975) for the reduction of the anxiety associated with
oral communication-apprehension have also proven efficacious.
- 36 -
Social skills deficits have also been identified as a significant
variable in social skills research and training. According to McFall
(1977) the following can affect an individual's social performance:
1. Lack of experience or opportunity to learn.
2. Faulty experiences.
3. Obsolescence of a previously adaptive response.
4. Learning disabilities resulting from biological
5. Traumatic events such as injuries or disease that
nullify prior learning or obstruct new learning.
The lack of social skills theory suggests that an individual's
impaired performance elicits reactive anxiety, avoidance or escape.
In contrast to the conditioned anxiety theory, research in treatment
strategies by MacDonald, Lindquist, Kramer, McGrath and Rhyne (1975)
and Twentyman and McFall (1975) lend credibility to treatment strategies
that view inept social behavior as the result of behavioral deficits.
Twentyman and McFall (1975) concluded that behavioral training "signi-
ficantly improved the heterosocial performance of shy subjects on ex-
perimental measures" (p. 394). Supportive research in social skills
training for social anxiety by Christensen and Arkowitz (1974),
Christensen, Arkowitz and Anderson (1975), and Curran (1977), suggest
that skills training can be an efficacious treatment mode. These and
other research findings from assertion training research underscore
the positive outcome effects of a skills-based treatment strategy.
The third variable suggested by Galassi and Galassi (1979) is
concerned with the cognitive, or self-statement mode of human function-
ing. It is suggested that many individuals who experience difficulties
in social situations are capable of emitting adroit social skills but
fail to do so because of their negative self-evaluations, excessive
- 37 -
performance self-expectations, irrational beliefs and faulty perceptions
of misinterpreted feedback. Clearly, individuals in this situation
fail to perform adequately because of their cognitions.
According to Gambrill (1977), what one says to one's self affects
human behavior even if the necessary social skills are present. For
example, Gambrill (1977) investigated the self-statements of assertive
and nonassertive men. She found that less assertive men had more
negative self-statements and less positive self-statements than the
more assertive men. Moreover, she found that less assertive men did
not differ in their knowledge of appropriate assertive responses. In
support of the role of cognitions in social performance, Glass,
Gottman and Schmurak (1976), in a study of socially anxious college
males, found that substituting positive self-statements for negative
cognitions was more effective than the skills training approach.
Clark and Arkowitz (1975) also investigated the role of cognitions
and especially, self-evaluations of social performance. In this study
of high and low anxious males, the researchers found that the highly
anxious subjects significantly underestimated their performance when
compared to the rater's perception of their performance. This suggests
that the highly-anxious subjects indulge in negative self-evaluations
regarding their performance more than individuals who are not as
Bellack (1979b) confirms that ample evidence exists for cognitive
differences between the socially-anxious and low socially-anxious
individuals. Specifically, he suggests that highly-anxious
individuals attend to and interpret negative social experiences and
negative feedback about their social performances to a greater extent
- 38 -
than low-anxious individuals. In addition, high-anxious individuals,
according to Bellack (1979b), are more likely to expect negative evalua-
tions and are less likely to reward themselves for their social per-
formances. Eisler, Frederickson, and Peterson (1978) have noted that
"to the extent that individuals expect unfavorable consequences from
behaviors in their repertoires, they will not exhibit them" (p. 426).
The role of cognitions in shyness appears to be confirmed; however,
Bellack (1979a) questions whether these cognitions cause, maintain, or
result from social difficulties. He suggests that intervention stra-
tegies for the shy individual may need to vary according to the role
of the cognitive factors.
The final variable regarding social difficulties may be physical
attractiveness. Some evidence exists which suggests that people who
experience social difficulties may actually be less physically attrac-
tive than those who do not experience this difficulty. Galassi and
Galassi (1979) assert that this factor has not been studied in depth
but suggest preliminary findings which demonstrate that physically
attractive individuals may be more desirable interpersonally and better
skilled and comfortable in social interactions regardless of their true
skill or comfort levels. In addition, physically attractive indivi-
duals may have more opportunity to employ social behaviors and, there-
fore, may be more comfortable because they have had more practice in
The role of controlling variables in shyness cannot be overlooked.
Evidence exists supporting the significance of each variable and its
correlate treatment modality; however, some supportive data appear
- 39 -
to challenge some of the results. Zimbardo (1977), for example, has
expressed his bias by suggesting that "shyness is not caused simply by
a lack of self-confidence or unfounded fears about social situations;
it may be more a matter of not having or not practicing certain social
skills" (pp. 15-16). Rehm and Marston (1968), on the other hand, view
social anxiety as a malfunction of self-statements. It is clear that
continued research which compares and contrasts social skills training
and cognitive-based training for the amelioration of shyness is needed
in order to promote effective treatment strategies.
Conversation Skills Training
Social skills training makes use of a variety of counseling
techniques including skills acquisition, behavioral rehearsal, self-
monitoring, feedback and homework assignments. Conversation skills
training and practice is an aspect of social skills training and has
been explicated by Zimbardo (1977). He discusses three phases of con-
versations: starting a conversation, keeping a conversation going, and
ending a conversation. Gambril1 (1977) has listed a similar pattern
of communication skills which includes initiating conversations,
maintaining conversations, arranging future contact and terminating
exchanges, responding to another individual initiating a conversation,
and expressing appropriate affect. Zimbardo and Gambrill each include
attention to oral and nonverbal behaviors in their treatment strategies.
These treatment strategies have been used with shy and nonassertive
individuals who are considered to have a skills deficiency. It has also
been suggested for individuals who do not engage in interpersonal
- 40 -
communication on a frequent basis regardless of whether they possess
the skill in their repertoire of conversation skills. Individuals in
the latter area may simply need to practice and implement their skills
more frequently to ameliorate the negative effects of their conversa-
Coping Skills Training and
Stress Inoculation Training
Over the past decade, behavior therapists have ventured into
research which attempts to define the role of cognitions on behavior.
According to Mahoney and Arnkoff (1978), "one of the most recent and
perhaps surprising developments in clinical psychology has been the
emergence of fundamentally cognitive therapies within the boundaries of
behavior therapy" (p. 689).
The recognition of self-statements and their role in self-control
therapies has gained wide acceptance and must be considered a signifi-
cant development in psychology.
In addition to the strides made in this area of cognitive-
behavior therapy, much interest has been directed toward coping skills
training (Goldfried and Merbaum, 1973; Mahoney, 1974; Mahoney and
Thoresen, 1974). According to Mahoney and Arnkoff (1978), coping skills
therapies are concerned with the self-instructional procedures designed
to help the client facilitate adaptive behaviors and cognitions which
abate the stress and anxiety associated with specific events or situa-
tions. Stress inoculation training as proposed by Meichenbaum (1977)
is considered to be a coping skills training therapy since it emphasizes
coping with an anxiety provoking event or situation as it is experienced
- 41 -
Meichenbaum (1977) describes stress inoculation training as a
cognitive modification treatment which combines semantic and behavior
therapies. It has several characteristic aspects and objectives:
1. Clients learn the role of their cognitions of self-
statements in contributing to the perceived problem.
2. Clients learn to discriminate between these self-
statements by self-monitoring these statements.
3. Clients learn to substitute positive self-statements
for negative self-statements.
4. Clients learn and implement relaxation skills as a
5. Clients practice and rehearse these objectives.
It is, according to Meichenbaum (1977), "[a] complex multifaceted
training procedure . to teach coping skills" (p. 147).
Very little research has been conducted on the use of stress
inoculation training as a coping skills therapy for socially anxious
individuals. Meichenbaum (1972) has employed this training procedure
with favorable results in the reduction of test taking anxiety in
college students. In general, however, stress inoculation training
has yet to be investigated in the area of communication-apprehension
and social anxiety.
Summary of the Related Literature
This review of the related literature has attempted to bring clari-
ty to the construct of shyness by suggesting that shyness cannot be
categorized by a single concept of behavioral criterion. It is a human
condition which falls along a continuum that spans from healthy func-
tioning to psychopathology. Distinct differences between the shy and
- 42 -
not-shy elucidate the construct of shyness while descriptions of
the publicly and privately shy individual augment the understanding
of shyness as a multifaceted human condition. The introduction of the
research in oral communication-apprehension adds to the body of know-
ledge already gathered by psychologists and counselors on the topic
of shyness. This research did much to bring about a clear distinction
between state and trait communication-apprehension and, therefore, is
significant to both the communication studies researcher and the
researcher in psychology and counseling.
The role of specific variables, especially skills-acquisition and
anxiety-reduction variables, suggests that accurate identification of
the shy individual's problem area is necessary if treatment strategies
are to be efficacious.
Finally, conversation skills training and coping skills training
appear as viable treatment strategies for the amelioration of the
negative effects of shyness and communication-apprehension because
they take into account the variables of skills-acquisition and practice,
and anxiety-reduction. Research which compares the treatment effects
of these specific approaches appears to be of import to the profes-
sionals in the fields of psychology, counseling, and communication
This quasi-experimental research study was designed to measure the
treatment effects of two counseling strategies, each of which employs
distinctive techniques for the amelioration of the negative effects
of shyness (specifically, communication-apprehension). This research
measured the effects of these strategies and makes recommendations re-
garding the efficacy of each.
There were two treatment groups and one no-treatment control group
employed in this research. The stress inoculation training group (SI)
and the conversation skills training group (CS) served as the two treat-
ment groups. The no-treatment control group (NT) served as the control
for this study. The independent variables involved were the treatments
noted, SI and CS. The dependent variable was the degree of conversation-
apprehension experienced by the subjects before and after the treatment
and no-treatment modalities were administered.
Group Pretest Independent Variable Posttest
SI Y1 X(SI) Y2
CS Y1 X(CS) Y2
NT Y -- Y2
- 43 -
- 44 -
The pre and posttest data were compared to the data compiled
from the NT group. An assessment of the outcome effects of the treat-
ment strategies was made after considering the posttest data.
Since true randomization of subjects to the groups was not possible,
this research was considered quasi-experimental in design. In light
of the limitations of such research, the screening and pretest scores
were analyzed to determine whether the means and standard deviations of
the three groups differed significantly.
The measures of the dependent variable of communication-apprehension
were the Social Avoidance and Distress scale (SAD) (Watson and Friend,
1969) and The Social Interaction Self-Statement Test (SISST) (Glass
and Merluzzi, 1978). (See Appendix A.) A revised form of the Personal
Report of Communication-Apprehension-College form (PRCA-C) (McCroskey,
1970, 1975) and a revised Shyness Survey adapted from the Stanford
Shyness Survey (Zimbardo, 1977) were used as screening devices in order
to ensure the selection of subjects who were, by self-report, apprehen-
sive in conversations and shy around others. (See Appendix B.)
The SAD was developed by Watson and Friend (1969) for males and
females. The scale consists of 18 true-false statements which measure
general social anxiety rather than situation-specific social anxiety.
The scores will range from 0 to 28 with 28 representing a high level of
social anxiety. The SAD took approximately five minutes to complete.
According to Galassi and Galassi (1979), the SAD has been the most fre-
quently used self-report questionnaire on social avoidance and distress.
The SAD has a .94 Kuder-Richardson reliability coefficient as well as
- 45 -
.68 and .79 correlations on two test-retest reliability checks after
one month periods of time.
The SISST was developed for the purpose of assessing positive and
negative self-statements of men and women who suffer from social anxiety.
It has 30 items which use a five point Likert response scale. The items
were selected by Glass and Merluzzi (1978) from the self-statements of
subjects who imagined social situations. The SISST measures positive
and negative self-statements. The negative self-statement scores can
range from 15 to 60 with 60 representing a maximum number of negative
self-statements. The measure took approximately five minutes to com-
plete. Reliability, according to Galassi and Galassi (1979), has not
been reported for the instrument. However, a variety of validity data
has been gathered. For example, highly social-anxious women have been
found to score significantly higher on negative self-statements and
significantly lower on positive self-statements. The SISST is considered
to be an important instrument in cognitive treatment research because it
directly assesses changes in individuals' cognitions.
The PRCA-C was developed by McCroskey (1970, 1975) for the purpose
of assessing communication-apprehension in college students. The re-
vised instrument used in this research was comprised of seven statements
which used a five-point Likert response scale. The items measured a
subjects feelings about communicating with others. The PRCA-C scores
were expected to range from zero to 35 with the highest scores repre-
senting a high degree of communication-apprehension. This measure took
approximately three minutes to complete and was used as one of the
two screening devices. The original version of the PRCA-C was admin-
istered to approximately four thousand male and female college
- 46 -
students enrolled in two large mid-western universities. Odd-even
internal consistency reliability estimates ranged from .92 to .94.
Test-retest reliability over a ten day period was .83 with a population
of 769 subjects. Validity information for the PRCA-C appears to be the
instrument's primary weakness. The author based the credibility of the
PRCA-C on face validity only. Determining the validity based on corre-
lations with other instruments was not conducted, nore were observer
ratings of overt behaviors or physiological responses monitored for
validity purposes. McCroskey (1970), nevertheless, writes:
In summary, the PRCA-College instrument is reliabile and
has some indication of validity. Because it employs the
Likert approach to measurement, the data which it yields
normally would be considered interval. It appears that
this instrument is of sufficient quality to be employed
in research in communication-apprehension among college
students. (p. 174)
In addition to the PRCA-C, a shyness survey adapted from the
Stanford Shyness Survey (Zimbardo, 1977) was used as the second screening
device. One closed-ended question about shyness was included with two
Likert response scaled questions. The scores on this survey were
expected to range from zero to 16, with 16 representing a high degree
The subjects for this study were recruited from educational psycho-
logy classes at the University of Iowa. These classes included both
undergraduate and graduate students, most of whom were women students.
The subjects selected to participate in the study were granted extra
credit toward the completion of an optional research component in the
courses. These classes were selected as a result of discussions between
- 47 -
the researcher and the instructors of the educational psychology classes.
It was thought that the opportunity to participate in a program on
shyness, in combination with the opportunity to gain additional course
credit, would help to secure the necessary number of subjects for the
In order to recruit subjects, the researcher addressed each class.
The consent form and the screening devices were presented and collected
and a brief overview of the requirements for participants was given.
The students were asked to read the consent form and to sign the
form if they agreed to participate in the screening procedures (See
Appendix E). Since extra credit would be given, the students were told
that the project was attempting to identify people whose responses fell
along a continuum of shyness from not shy to extremely shy. This was
stated to decrease the chance of biased responses toward shyness on the
PRCA-C and the Shyness Survey. In addition, all students completing the
screening devices were told that they would receive some amount of cre-
dit, regardless of their responses (the amount of credit granted varied
depending on the instructor).
There were 144 students who completed the consent and screening
forms. These subjects were screened on the basis of their responses on
the revised PRCA-C survey and the Shyness Survey. Students whose re-
sponses fell in the top 40% of the frequency distribution on the com-
bined screening scores were contacted by telephone and asked to parti-
cipate in the study. Of the 57 students in the top 40% of the distri-
bution, 30 agreed to participate. Of the 30 subjects who agreed to
participate, 27 subjects finished the study. Twenty-five were females
and two were males. The mean age for the subjects was 23.7 years with
- 48 -
a standard deviation of six years. The age range in the sample was
from 19 to 42 years. University class standings ranged from sophomore
to graduate status.
The subjects selected to participate in the study were asked to
complete the appropriate consent form (See Appendices F and G). Con-
senting subjects were then assigned to one of three groups. The assign-
ments were based on the subjects' class schedules and availability.
The three groups were scheduled during separate dates and times. The
subjects were telephoned to inform them of the dates and times of
their first group meeting. Since randomization of subjects to the
groups was not possible, the treatment strategies were randomly assigned
to the two groups after the subjects were scheduled. The NT control
group was not randomly assigned since some of these subjects agreed to
participate only if they met in the group which would meet twice over
the four week period. This seemed advantageous to some students who
did not want to participate in the four week treatment groups. The
social skills training group consisted of 10 female subjects. The
stress inoculation training group consisted of 7 female subjects. The
no-treatment control group consisted of 10 subjects: 8 females and 2
The two treatment groups (SI and CS) met four times; once a week
for 90 minutes over a four week period of time during the Fall 1981
semester. Four 90 minute sessions were selected to reflect similar
formats chosen for related research in counseling, for heterosocial
skills training, and stress reduction for test anxiety. Students who
- 49 -
missed a session were required to read a transcript of the missed session
and to attend a 30 minute make-up session. The subjects in the NT group
met twice over the four week period with the first and last meetings
coinciding with the first and last group meetings of the SI and CS
groups. Since no treatment for shyness was given the subjects in the
NT group, they were referred to a shyness group that was offered by the
university's counseling center.
There were two treatment group leaders who worked together in
administering the treatment strategies. There was one leader for the
NT group. The SI and CS co-leaders were Ph.D. level graduate students
in the counseling psychology program. Each had experience in leading
groups in supervised practice during their graduate training. In
addition, the male co-leader had experience training subjects in stress
inoculation for test anxiety management. The female co-leader had
experience in social skills training programs for adolescents. The
primary researcher acted as the NT group leader. His responsibilities
were limited to the administration of the pre and posttests. The
subjects in this group were asked to read the instructions on the
tests. They were also told that the primary researcher would not be
able to help them respond to their pre and posttests. This was done
to diminish the chance of interference by the researcher.
Subjects assigned to t.e SI group were exposed to a cognitive-
behavioral approach to the management of their communication-apprehension
and the related anxieties (see Appendix C). The first session included
the administration of the protests and a group discussion of the role of
- 50 -
self-statements in communication-apprehension and in the identification
of the physiological responses to social interactions. This session was
considered the "introductory" and "educational" phases of the SI package.
Session number two included a review of the first session and the intro-
duction of deep muscle relaxation training as a method for reducing an-
xiety associated with communication-apprehension. Session three included
a review of the previous sessions and the introduction of coping imagery
as a skill in reducing communication-apprehension. It also included a
"rehearsal" phase so that the techniques represented in the group could
be experienced by the subjects. The final session included a review of
the previous sessions and another opportunity for the subjects to prac-
tice the techniques presented in the group. The posttest measures were
also administered during the final session (SAD and SISST, see Appendix
Subjects selected for the CS treatment group were exposed to a so-
cial skills training approach designed to alleviate communication-
apprehension (see Appendix D). The first session included the admini-
stration of the protests, a group acquaintance activity, an overview of
shyness, an introduction to self-monitoring as it relates to their pre-
sent conversation behaviors and responses during the treatment period;
an introduction to good non-verbal communication skills; and an intro-
duction to initiating conversation skills. Session two included a
review of session one, a discussion of the entries in the self-monitoring
journals, and an introduction to maintaining conversation skills. Ses-
sion three included a review of the previous sessions and an introduc-
tion to terminating conversation skills. In addition, session three in-
cluded a rehearsal phase in which the subjects were asked to incorporate
- 51 -
the skills they had learned in a conversation with another group member.
Finally, session four included a review of the previous sessions, an
additional rehearsal exercise with another group member, and the admini-
stration of the posttest measures.
Data Collection and Analysis
The pretest measures employed in this study were the Social Avoi-
dance and Distress scale (SAD) and the Social Interaction Self-Statement
Test (SISST). They were administered by the group leaders during the
first sessions of the three groups.
The posttest data (SAD and SISST) were gathered by the group
leaders during the final sessions of the groups. The posttest measures
were the same as the pretest measures in this research.
This quasi-experimental research design made use of a multivariate
analysis of variance (MANOVA) to determine whether the groups were equi-
valent on the screening and pretest measures. The means and the standard
deviations on each of the measures were compared to all three groups.
Following the results of the MANOVA, repeated measures analyses were
employed to determine the effects of the treatment groups in comparison
to the no-treatment control group.
Limitations of the Research
There were a few inherent methodological limitations involved in
this quasi-experimental research design.
One salient caveat was the researcher's inability to randomly assign
subjects to the groups. This randomization was not possible for two
reasons: First, the subjects' availability for this study was limited
- 52 -
by their class schedules. Some students could not participate merely
because they could not arrange to include the study in their busy
schedules. Every effort was made to hold the groups during times that
seemed compatible for the majority of those who agreed to participate.
While the assignment of subjects to the groups was not random, the
designations of the treatment modalities were made randomly by picking
numbers out of a hat. Group 1 became the social skills group. Group
2 became the stress inoculation group.
One element of control which was introduced was the screening pro-
cedures for the subjects. Participants selected for the study were
screened on the basis of their responses to the revised PRCA-C and the
revised Shyness Survey. These devices ensured the selection of sub-
jects who considered themselves to be shy and communication-apprehensive.
Another caveat of this research was its use of self-report indices.
A review of the literature on these instruments has confirmed their limi-
tations. For example, responses to self-report indices may not be
accurate since they rely on the subjects' degree of self-awareness and
willingness to divulge aspects of their personal and interpersonal beha-
Other limitations of this design included the nature of the study
and the manner in which subjects were solicited for the groups. It is
possible that some shy people would never seek help for their social pro-
blem. Others may not want to change. It is also possible that some
shy people may have wanted to join this study but decided against it
because the treatment programs were offered in group settings. These
may have attributed to the difficulty in acquiring more than the 30 sub-
jects who originally agreed to participate. The other aspect of this
- 53 -
caveat is the issue of giving extra credit to those who participated.
It may be realistic to assume that a degree of their motivation for par-
ticipating in this study was related to the opportunity to gain credit
in the course.
Finally, there are some threats to the internal and external vali-
dity of this research. According to Isaac and Michael (1971) and Ary,
Jacobs and Razavieh (1979), the threats to the internal validity include
the variables of history, maturation, testing, statistical regression
toward the mean, selection, experimental mortality and the interaction
effects of selection-maturation. An effort was made to minimize the
influence of the above variables; however, complete control of these
issues were not accomplished. The threat to external validity included
the interaction effects of selection of subjects, the pretest sensiti-
zation effects, and the reactive effects of the experimental conditions.
Pretest and Posttest scores were obtained for each group member
on the self report measures of communication-apprehension. An analysis
of pretreatment group differences and repeated measures analysis of
variance on the two dependent variables were conducted. Group dif-
ferences were also made and are included in the results section.
Analysis of Pretest Scores
Intercorrelations of the PRCA-C, SAD and the SISST were computed.
The correlations on these variables ranged from .54 to .65. Based on
these data, a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used to
analyze the three pretest scores in order to determine whether the
three groups were similar on the screening and pretest variables. A
MANOVA on the three pretest measures revealed no significant differences
among the treatment groups (F, (2,24)= 1.05, P < .40 using the Wilks
criterion). The results of the univariate ANOVAs are presented in
Table 1. The results of the MANOVA supported the conclusion that the
treatment groups did not significantly differ on the pretest scores and
that a repeated measures ANOVA on the pre and posttest scores was
Social Interaction and Self-Statement Test (SISST)
A repeated measures ANOVA was employed to determine the effects
of time and treatment on the SISST scores. A significant effect for
- 55 -
Results of MANOVA
PRCA-C and Revised Shyness Survey
DF SS MS F
2 30.58 15.29
24 467.71 19.49
- 56 -
time (F, (2,24) = 5.05, P < .03) was found. In this research, the time
factor was the four week period of time between the pre and posttesting.
The repeated measures ANOVA failed to support either a significant
effect for the group factor (F, (2,24) = .029, P < .75) or the interac-
tion of group X time (F, (2.24) = 2.70, P < .09). The pre and posttest
group means for the conversation skills training (CS), the stress ino-
culation training (SI) and the no-treatment control group (NT) are
shown in Table 3 and Figure 1.
Social Avoidance and Distress Scale (SAD)
A repeated measures ANOVA was also used to analyze the SAD scores.
The analysis revealed a significant effect for time (F, (2,24) = 17.49,
P < .0003) and also an interaction of group by time (F, (2,24) = 4.66,
P < .02). The group effect was not significant (F, (2,24) = .32,
P < .73). The pre and posttest group means for the three groups are
shown in Table 4 and Figure 2. The significant group X time interac-
tion was followed with a test of simple effects using correlated tests
between each of the three groups' pre and postSAD scores. A critical
value of .016 (.05/3) was used to control the experiment-wise alpha.
The two treatment groups each showed significant differences between
the pre and posttest scores on the SAD. The NT group did not signifi-
cantly change. These values are shown in Table 5.
CS Group 95.40
SI Group 95.57
NT Group 93.40
CS Group 17.5
SI Group 16.6
NT Group 12.0
p = .011
p = .015
p = .80
- 58 -
The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of two coun-
seling startegies on shy college students. The results were compared
to a no-treatment control group and inferences were made regarding the
hypotheses stated in Chapter III.
There were four directional hypotheses tested in this research:
1. Subjects in the communication skills training treatment group
would report a reduction of their communication-apprehension when
compared to the no-treatment control group as measured on the
Social Avoidance and Distress scale (SAD). The results of this
research led to the failure to reject this hypothesis.
2. Subjects in the communication skills training treatment group
would report a reduction of their communication-apprehension when
compared to the no-treatment control group as measured on the
Social Interaction and Self-Statement Test (SISST). The results
of this research led to the rejection of this hypothesis.
3. Subjects in the stress inoculation training treatment group
would report a reduction of their communcation-apprehension when
compared to the no-treatment control group as measured on the SAD.
The results of this research led to the failure to reject this
- 59 -
- 60 -
4. Subjects in the stress inoculation training treatment group
would report a reduction of their communication-apprehension when
compared to the no-treatment control group as measured on the
SISST. The results of this research led to the rejection of this
The results of this study revealed that the subjects in the two
treatment groups became less apprehensive in social situations, less
likely to suffer from the debilitating social anxiety, and less likely
to avoid social situations when compared to the no-treatment control
group. Changes in the amount of the subjects' negative self-statements
regarding social interactions were not found to be significant for
either treatment group when compared to the no-treatment group.
The results on the SAD for each of the two treatment groups are
supported by previous research conducted by McGovern, Arkowitz and
Gilmore (1975). In this case, a skills training approach significantly
improved social skills behaviors as measured by the SAD and two other
The SAD measured social avoidance and distress in social situations
while the SISST measured negative self-statements regarding social in-
teractions. A significant reduction on the SISST was expected for both
groups, but not realized. Previously cited research on social anxiety
by Clark and Arkowitz (1975), and Glass, Gottman, and Schmurak (1976)
supported the use of cognitive interventions, i.e., restructuring self-
statements, for socially anxious individuals but it was not supported
by this research using the SISST as a measure of changes in cognitions.
One reason for the apparent discrepancy may lie in the different number
of treatment sessions. This research used four 90 minute sessions over
a four week period. The treatment programs in the above studies had
longer treatment periods ranging from six to eight sessions. Another
reason for the discrepancy may be in the different cognitive measures
being used. None of the aforementioned studies used the SISST as the
It was interesting to note the stress inoculation training group,
which included exercises for restructuring cognitions, did not report
a significant reduction in the number of negative self-statements when
compared to the no-treatment control group. It did, however, report
a significant reduction in the social avoidance and distress associated
with communicating with others. This leads to the inference that changes
in self-statements about shyness may not be as important as skills
training and behavioral rehearsal for the desired social skill. Since
both groups made significant improvements on the SAD it might also
be inferred that it was the skills training in the:social skills training
group and the behavioral component in the stress inoculation training
group that led to the reduction of the subjects' communication-
apprehension. It is noteworthy, however, to draw attention to the
downward trend in group means for both treatment groups on the SISST.
While significance was not reached, it might have been had the treatment
groups been extended for a longer period of time.
The two treatment groups appeared to have had a significant effect
on the subjects' self-report of communication-apprehension based on
one of the two measures. Neither treatment appeared to be significantly
- 62 -
better than the other when compared to the no-treatment control group.
Significant changes in the cognitions associated with shyness were not
realized for either group. Both treatments had exercises designed to
alleviate shyness, i.e., conversation skills and relaxation skills.
These interventions, along with the counseling offered by the same group
leaders, may have led to the significant improvement of the subjects in
both of the treatment groups on the SAD. The no-treatment control
group subjects did not report a significant reduction in communication-
apprehension, presumably because no treatment was offered. The lack of
change in this group may also have been partially due to the fact the
subjects knew that they were in the control group. The informed con-
sent alluded to the idea that they would not receive treatment for their
shyness. This probably led them to expect that they would not change
over the four week period of time.
An alternative explanation for the results obtained would be that
a placebo effect had a role in the treatment groups' responses on the
dependent variables. The subjects in these groups invested approximately
six hours of their personal time. The investment of time may have led
the treatment groups to expect some changes in their communication-
From a similar perspective, therole of cognitive dissonance may
have had an effect on the subjects' expectations for change. Festinger
(1957) describes cognitive dissonance as a discrepancy between a person's
attitude and behavior that motivates a change in behavior or attitude.
In this case, the subjects invested their personal time in a treatment
program. People who make this kind of commitment may expect positive
changes in their attitudes and behaviors in order to justify the time
- 63 -
spent. With these limitations in mind, the primary inference remains
that the treatment strategies were the major reason for the significant
treatment effects for each group.
An issue to be acknowledged as a limitation was the predominance
of women subjects in this research. Of the 27 subjects who completed
the study, two were men. This limits the scope of the conclusions that
can be made if it is assumed that men and women differ in their responses
to communication-apprehension. For the purpose of this research, however,
it is assumed that men and women share some similar reactions to being
shy, and specifically, being apprehensive in interpersonal communication.
Future research may wish to address the possible differential reactions
that men and women have regarding their shyness.
Also, this quasi-experimental research has a number of inherent
limitations which were addressed in the methodology section of this
research. These limitations include the non-random assignment of
subjects to groups, the use of self report indices as the sole dependent
variables, the limitations of gaining subjects for a group approach to
alleviating the deleterious effects of shyness, and the inherent threats
to the internal and external validity of the research.
To the extent possible, some control was built-in to this research
to help make the results more understandable.
The inability of the researcher to randomly assign subjects to the
groups was due to the scheduling constraints of the subjects who agreed
to participate. While the random assignment of subjects was not done,
it was possible to randomly assign the treatment strategies to the two
- 64 -
treatment groups. Random assignment of the control group was not
possible, since the subjects of this group agreed to participate only
if they were assigned to the group that met twice over the four week
period. Another element of control was added to this research by
screening subjects prior to assigning the subjects to the groups. This
helped to ensure the selection of subjects who were similar based on
two screening devices. The comparisons of the pretest results also
supported the selection of similar subjects for the research and accor-
ding to Ary, Jacobs, and Razavieh (1979), if the groups appear similar
on the pretest measures, then the effects of maturation, testing, and
instrumentation will be controlled.
The use of self-report indices as the only measures of changes in
communication-apprehension is also a limitation of this research. In
order to make stronger inferences in this type of research, self-report
indices should be included with behavioral and perhaps physiological
measures of the levels of communication-apprehension. Future research
in this area should include a combination of these measures if possible.
Another weakness of this research was the difficulty in gaining sub-
jects and the relatively small sample size. There were 27 subjects who
completed the study; only three people dropped out of the study. Perhaps
differences in the treatment strategies and/or significance on the SISST
could have been realized if the number of subjects was larger. Attempts
to include more subjects in this research were made, but only with
limited success. For example, the cut-off on the screening measures was
lowered from the top 30% of those screened tothe top 40%. Of the 57
students who met the cut-off criterion, 30 students agreed to participate.
A cursory look at the students who met the criterion, but who decided
- 65 -
not to participate revealed the following results: 1) no need for the
extra credit, 2) no time to participate, 3) scheduling conflicts, 4)
no desire to participate.
Another difficulty in lowering the cut-off criterion for subjects
was that the scores below the accepted level tended to reflect indi-
viduals who responded in the negative to the question, "Do you consider
yourself to be a shy person?" Obviously, it was important to exclude
those subjects who did not see themselves as shy people.
The lack of a follow-up assessment to determine the effects of
the treatment strategies over time can also be acknowledged as a limita-
tion of this research. The decision not to include a follow-up measure
was made in light of the small number of subjects, the difficulties in
contacting subjects after a semester has ended, and the problems in ac-
quiring a large return rate on the surveys through the mail. Future
research in this area ought to include some form of a follow-up assess-
ment, preferably one which includes self-report, behavioral and/or phy-
siological measures in order to determine the long range effects of
the treatment programs.
The treatment groups appeared to have some similarities which may
also add to the results. The similarities included the duration of
the meeting times, the group leaders, and a disruptive subject who oca-
sionally made jokes or made angry comments. The effects of the simila-
rities may help to underscore the improvements on the SAD. The effect
of having a disruptive subject in each of the two treatment groups is
difficult to assess. Perhaps the disruptions affected the outcome of
the posttests but it is not clear about the direction of the effect
since in each group, one or two members stated that they did not consider
- 66 -
the group to be a joke or a waste of time; they stated in front of the
group that they were sincerely interested in the treatment programs
and that the procedures were helpful to them.
While this research contains some limitations in the design and
implementation, it does help to shed some light on the effects of the
two treatment strategies for the individual who experiences communication-
apprehension. For example, stress inoculation training has heretofore
been used as an intervention with test-anxious and public speaking-anxious
individuals. This research is unique because it is the first time stress
inoculation training has been employed for communication-apprehensive
college students. Previous research in this area has made use of skills
training or systematic desensitization. This research adds to the body
of research by offering a comparison of the traditional social skills
approach with the recent cognitive-behavioral approach.referred to as
stress inoculation training. Based on the results of this study, the
use of stress inoculation training for shy (communication-apprehensive)
college students can be supported as an alternative treatment method
to the more traditional social skills training approaches, although the
cognitive restructuring component remains to be proven efficacious.
The result of this study revealed that the shy individuals in the
two treatment groups were less socially apprehensive, less likely to
avoid social situations, and less anxious in social situations in general
when compared to thesubjects in the no-treatment control group. This,
in part, supports two directional hypotheses since both treatment groups
made significant changes on the Social Avoidance and Distress scale
- 67 -
compared to the no-treatment control group. The results on the Social
Interaction and Self-Statement Test were not conclusive. Neither the
conversation skills training group nor the stress inoculation training
group reported significant decreases in their negative self-statements
regarding interpersonal communication. Group means for the two treat-
ment groups did decrease, but not significantly, when compared to the
no-treatment control group.
Therefore, it was concluded that both the conversation skills
training and the stress inoculation training were effective in helping
shy college students diminish their social avoidance and distress asso-
ciated with interpersonal communication over a four week period of time.
Each treatment appeared effective in this area, but neither treatment
seemed to significantly impact the individuals' negative self-statements
associated with interpersonal communication over the four week period.
Implications for the Counseling Profession
Zimbardo (1977) has asserted that shyness is a serious social con-
cern worthy of being considered a social disease. In addition, the
Stanford Shyness Survey has revealed that millions of people are in need
of counseling for their shyness. Over 50% of those surveyed stated that
they would seek help from shyness clinics if they existed. Merely by the
demographic information presented in this survey, there exists the need
for counselors to attend to the large numbers of shy people who want
help but do not know how to get it.
- 68 -
In order for shy people to gain help from counseling practitioners,
it is necessary for researchers in the field to evaluate and recommend
This research has helped to shed some light on two counseling
strategies for the shy individual by comparing the effects of conversa-
tion skills training and stress inoculation training. As previously
stated, each seems to have a positive effect in helping shy people.
Over a four week period, the subjects in this study became less socially
apprehensive, less likely to avoid social situations, and less socially
anxious. The effects of the conversation skills training have been
supported by previous research and confirmed by this study. In addition
to this, this research has helped to promote a new counseling strategy
with shy people. Stress inoculation training, a cognitive-behavioral
approach, seems to be equally effective in helping shy people reduce
social distress and avoidant behavior.
Therefore, counselor education programs should include the teaching
of social skills training and cognitive-behavioral training for their
counselors who expect to work with clients who experience shyness. Speci-
fically, it is important for counselors to learn how to impart conversa-
tion skills and stress inoculation skills to their shy clients, whether
they be adults or children. This training should be presented in a
teaching module which clearly addresses social skills training theory
as proposed by Bellack (1979a) and Gambrill (1977) and cognitive behav-
ioral counseling theory as proposed by Mahoney (1974) and Meichenbaum
(1977). Current research findings should also be addressed in the
training. The manuals used in this research represent a step by step
approach to the implementation of social skills training and stress
- 69 -
inoculation training for shy individuals. Teaching counselors to
impart these approaches to their clients can be accomplished in three
or four class periods in counseling graduate programs or through
intensive training workshops over a period of a couple or three days.
Implications for Future Research
There are a number of unanswered research questions which may need
to be addressed in future research on shyness. For example, the debate
about the role of cognitions and more specifically, negative self-
statements in human behavior is still worthy of future consideration.
In this study, the shy subjects diminished their social avoidance and
distress with regard to interpersonal communication, without making
significant changes in their negative self-statements about being shy.
Does this mean that cognitive restructuring exercises designed to help
individuals diminish their negative cognitions are not as important
as teaching people to learn communication or relaxation skills? This
raises a related question about the components of the two treatment
strategies promoted in this research. For example, which components
are effective and which ones are not effective in helping shy people?
Future research should attempt to address these questions so that prac-
titioners can continue to present counseling strategies to help the shy
Finally, this research has documented that counseling strategies
can be effective in reducing a shy individual's social avoidance and
distress either through social skills training or stress reduction tech-
niques. It is hoped that counselors and researchers will continue their
work in helping shy people overcome aspects of their social anxiety by
treating the shy client with efficacious strategies and by continued
research on the outcome effects of such strategies.
SOCIAL AVOIDANCE AND DISTRESS SCALE ITEMS
Instructions: Place a check in the true or false spaces provided
1. I feel relaxed even in unfamiliar social situations.
2. I try to avoid situations which force me to be very
3. It is easy for me to relax when I am with strangers.
4. I have no particular desire to avoid people.
5. I often find social occasions upsetting.
6. I usually feel calm and comfortable at social
7. I am usually at ease when talking to someone of the
8. I try to avoid talking to people unless I know them
9. If the chance comes to meet new people, I often take it.
10. I often feel nervous or tense at casual get-togethers
at which both sexes are present.
11. I am usually nervous with people unless I know them well.
12. I usually feel relaxed when I am with a group of people.
13. I often want to get away from people.
14. I usually feel uncomfortable when I am in a group of
people I don't know.
15. I usually feel relaxed when I meet someone for the first
16. Being introduced to people makes me tense and nervous.
- 72 -
17. Even though a room is full of strangers, I may enter
18. I would avoid walking up and joining a large group of
19. When my superiors want to talk with me, I talk
20. I often feel on edge when I am with a group of people.
21. I don't mind talking to people at parties or social
22. I tend to withdraw from people.
23. I am seldom at ease in a large group of people.
24. I often think up excuses in order to avoid social
25. I sometimes take the responsibility for introducing
people to each other.
26. I try to avoid formal social occasions.
27. I usually go to whatever social engagements I have.
28. I find it easy to relax with other people.
- 73 -
THE SOCIAL INTERACTION SELF-STATEMENT TEST
It is obvious that people think a variety of things when they
are involved in different social situations.
Below is a list of things which you may have thought to yourself
at some time before, during and after an interaction in which you were
engaged. Read each item and decide how frequently you may have been
thinking a similar thought before, during and after an interaction.
Utilize the following scale to indicate the nature of your thoughts.
1 = hardly ever had the thought
2 = rarely had the thought
3 = sometimes had the thought
4 = often had the thought
5 = very often had the thought
Please answer as honestly as possible.
1. When I can't think of anything to say I can feel myself get-
ting very anxious.
2. I can usually talk to people pretty well.
3. I hope I don't make a fool of myself.
4. I'm beginning to feel more at ease.
5. I'm really afraid of what people think of me.
6. No worries, no fear, no anxieties.
7. I'm scared to death.
8. She/he probably won't be interested in me.
9. Maybe I can put her/him at ease by starting things going.
- 74 -
10. Instead of worrying I can figure out how best to get to know
11. I'm not too comfortable meeting women/men so things are
bound to go wrong.
12. What the heck, the worst that can happen is that she/he wo
go for me.
13. She/he may want to talk to me as much as I want to talk to
14. This will be a good opportunity.
15. If I blow this conversation, I'll really lose my confidence
16. What I say will probably sound stupid.
17. What do I have to lose? It's worth a try.
18. This is an awkward situation but I can handle it.
19. Wow--I don't want to do this.
20. It would crush me if she/he didn't respond to me.
21. I've just got to make a good impression on him/her or I'll
22. You're such an inhibited idiot.
23. I'll probably "bomb out" anyway.
24. I can handle anything.
25. Even if things don't go well it's no catastrophe.
26. I feel awkward and dumb; she/he is bound to notice.
27. We probably have a lot in common.
28. Maybe we'll hit it off real well.
29. I wish I could leave and avoid the whole situation.
30. Ah! Throw caution to the wind.
REVISED SHYNESS SURVEY*
1. Do you consider yourself to be a shy person?
2. How shy are you when you feel shy?
extremely shy somewhat shy
very shy only slightly shy
3. How often do you experience these feelings about shyness?
every day one or two times a week
almost every day occasionally, less than once a
often, nearly every
other day rarely, once a month or less
* Adapted from Stanford Shyness Survey (Zimbardo, 1977).
- 75 -
- 76 -
PRCA COLLEGE Name __Date
Indicate the degree to which you agree or disagree with the
following statements by using the following scale:
1 = strongly agree
2 = agree
3 = are undecided
4 = disagree
5 = strongly disagree
Place the number in the space proceeding the statements.
1. While participating in a conversation with a new acquaintance
I feel very nervous.
2. When communicating, my posture feels strained and unnatural.
3. I feel that I am more fluent when talking to people than most
other people are.
4. Conversing with people who hold positions of authority causes
me to be fearful and tense.
5. I dislike to use my body and voice expressively.
6. I feel relaxed and comfortable while speaking.
7. I feel self-conscious when I am called upon to answer a
question or give an opinion in class.
A MANUAL FOR STRESS INOCULATION TRAINING
PREPARED FOR USE IN
SHYNESS GROUP COUNSELING
JAMES E. SELLERS
- 77 -
- 78 -
I. Overview of program: Purpose, target and method
This manual describes the process of training clients in the
coping skills contained in stress inoculation training. The use
of the term "generic" in the title is intended to represent the
treatment described in this manual as suitable for and applicable
to a variety of client concerns. Stress inoculation training has
been used for test anxiety, speech (audience) anxiety, anger
pain management, and general stress management. Many focused and
non-focused anxieties, such as agoraphobia, fear of the dark,
social/interpersonal anxiety, and other client concerns, such as
aggression, may be suitable target problems.
The treatment may be administered in an individual or a group
format. Group treatment, however, is preferable as a means to
behavior change. There is an advantage to group treatment in terms
of therapist time. Also, in group interaction, clients can con-
tribute to and benefit from as exchange of relevant experiences.
Additionally, group feedback can be used as a correction mechanism
in coping skill acquisition and utilization. Finally, group cohesion
will usually enhance the treatment process, as will related factors
such as universality.
II. Goals and objectives
In general, stress inoculation training is used in a remedial
context. However, coping skills can also be profitably taught as
a preventive device. Therefore, the goal of this treatment is to
- 79 -
train clients in a variety of cognitive and behavioral coping
skills for use with current or anticipated problem situations.
Specific client objectives are as follows:
1. The client understands the role of cognitions (self-
statements) in initiating and maintaining anxiety, anger, etc.
2. The client acquires self-observation and discrimination
skills pertinent to the assessment of negative self-statements.
3. The client masters active substitution methods for re-
placing debilitating self-talk with positive coping self-statements.
4. The client learns to use active relaxation as a coping
5. The client achieves enhanced beliefs of self-efficacy
Behavior therapists have become increasingly interested in
coping skills training. Coping skills training differs from
laboratory-derived behavioral treatments in that it emphasizes
the clients' use of self-control strategies to cope with anxiety
when and where it is experienced. Anxiety, then, is not a symp-
tom to be removed or de-conditioned, but rather becomes a cue to
signal the initiation of coping techniques.
Coping skills training also emphasizes the multidimensional
nature of anxiety. Formulations of anxiety as a single
emotional state, as a personality trait, or as a dynamic symptom
have been rejected in recent years in favor of a social
- 80 -
learning conceptualization including cognitive, motoric and physio-
logical arousal components.
Coping skills training has been developed from three "themes"
in behavior therapy theory, research and practice. The first theme
is the emphasis on behavioral self-control (Bandura, 1969). The
client has been increasingly seen as possessing self-management
abilities--to arrange environmental contingencies and to produce
cognitive self-instructions--which could be used to learn and prac-
tice generalizable skills in anxiety reduction. Secondly, cogni-
tive processes have become recognized (Mahoney, 1974) as mediators
of behavior change and therefore legitimate clinical variables.
Finally, traditionally--practiced behavior therapy techniques of
deconditioning and aversion have often had limited generalization
and occasionally require skills not possessed by all clients
(i.e., imagery skills for systematic desensitization).
If therapists are interested in preventive aims, then
teaching clients skills which can be actively utilized to re-
duce anxiety as it occurs or to prevent its occurrence is a
reasonable therapeutic aim. Coping skills training consists of
many treatment packages (i.e., anxiety management training, applied
relaxation, cue-controlled relaxation, self-control desensitization
and self-statement modification); they all share a common goal of
actively instructing clients in the identification of anxiety
and the execution of behaviors which will reduce or eliminate
the anxiety and tension.
- 81 -
III. Content of sessions
2. Review application self-statements
Application coping relaxation
3. Review application phase
Coping imagery brainstorm
4. Rehearsal phase (continued)
Participants write contract
A. The first five minutes should be spent having each member
introduce him or herself briefly and state what concerns brought
the member into the group (e.g., "What is it like to feel shy?").
The leader should facilitate the discussion, emphasizing (1) the
duration, (2) the extent, (3) the situational aspects of the target
problems. Also, the leader should begin to emphasize the apparent
importance of self-statements in the target situation, comparing
these self-statements to those emitted in other non-feared situations.
Examples include: 1) I can't meet people 'cause I blush to easily.
2) I may as well just be quiet so I won't look foolish.
B. After the group members have provided enough clinical examples
the leader can summarize their discussion. The following summariza-
tion is suggested by Meichenbaum (1972):
- 82 -
"As I listen to you discuss your shyness anxiety, I am struck
by the similarities in how each of you are feeling and what you are
thinking. On the one hand, there are reports of quite a bit of
tenseness and anxiety in social situations. This tenseness seems
to take the forms of tense muscles, pounding hearts, sweaty palms,
and so on. (Use examples previously offered by group members and
list on blackboard.) At the same time, several of you described
how difficult it was for you to focus your attention on the task
before you. Somehow your attention wandered away from what you
had to do (initiate or continue conversation, etc.) to something
else. Also, your thoughts were catastrophic, that is you thought
about how awful it would be if you couldn't successfully complete
The leader then needs to get feedback from the group members
concerning this summarization.
C. The therapy rationale should then continue. The following ex-
planation was adapted from Meichenbaum (1972):
"If we consider your social anxiety as made up of your physio-
logical arousal and worry or thinking processes, then we should
think about changing in two directions. One is to control your
emotionality or tenseness, and we will do this through learning
how to relax. You will be trained to systematically relax all
parts of your body. One of the advantages of knowing how to actively
relax is that you cannot be tense and relaxed at the same time.
- 83 -
Therefore, you can use your skills in relaxing to help reduce the
anxiety and tenseness you feel while you are in the situation which
makes you anxious."
"In addition to learning how to relax, we will also discuss
ways to control and change the worrying kinds of thinking that you
do. The control of our thinking starts when we become aware of our
thoughts or self-statements, especially those which are examples of
clients' thinking styles or specific self-statements. Later on in the
group, we will talk about specific ways to become aware of our self-
statements and to change them to ones which will reduce anxiety."
D. The leader then asks the group members for responses to the
description of treatment and answers questions by referring to the
general statement of rationale. Relevant client examples which
highlight the need to control tenseness and arousal and to change
self-statements and thinking style should be included.
E. The leader now can inititate a discussion on anxiety as a
response that occurs in phases opposed to an all-or-nothing reaction.
This discussion should begin with the leader presenting the following
phases, and then eliciting confirmatory examples from group members.
1) preparing for the stressor
2) confronting and handling the stressor
3) coping with possibly being overwhelmed by the stressor and
4) rewarding oneself for having coped.
The point needs to be emphasized that often tension begins to
build in the first place, and that anxiety can be more easily reduced
- 84 -
then than waiting until the third phase, when the tenseness and
anxiety are overwhelming. Relevant examples can be obtained from
the group discussion.
F. The leader introduces this segment by describing the need to
consider thinking processes that occur in the target situation,
based on the model, and briefly mention the skills that will be
learned in this session (discrimination, construction, substitution).
At this point present the acronym STIRR (Lamb, 1977) to the
group. STIRR stands for:
Sense your anxiety when it first occurs.
Think about what you are saying to yourself.
Instruct yourself to replace negative self-statements with
Relax yourself actively.
Reward yourself for having coped.
The acronym STIRR is a useful way of packaging the skills involved
in stress inoculation which helps the client remember them more
easily. The leader should write this on the blackboard and answer
any questions the subjects may have about the idea.
G. The leader now should ask the group members to write down all
the thoughts they remember having prior to a recent situation in
which they felt shy. Blank paper or specific forms can be used;
the students should list as many of their thoughts as they can
recollect. It may be useful to have the students pair off and
- 85 -
discuss in dyads their experiences in the target event with the
focus on identifying self-statements. Essentially, a task analysis
is being performed which identifies the incidence, timing, and
content of the negative self-statements.
H. The leader should now introduce generalized coping self-statements
by stating that negative and debilitative self-talk can be classified
into three categories. We probably self-talk in each of these
categories, but you may find that you tend to use one or another
more often. The three categories are:
1) critical or clobbering:
these self-statements attack ourselves for our real or
You are really stupid.
I must be perfect to be O.K.
Boy, I must sound like a dope.
2) worrisome or catastrophic:
these statements dwell on the likely awful consequences
of our failures.
I have to do good in this conversation or I'll never get
I'll never be able to talk to strangers.
I'll probably forget what we are talking about in the middle
of our conversation.
If I start a conversation with him/her, I'll say something
stupid for sure.
- 86 -
these statements are thoughts irrelevant to the task we
are trying to complete.
No one else ever has any trouble meeting people.
How much longer will this conversation go on?
The students should then examine their self-statements and
classify them if possible, into one of the three categories.
Usually, a student will find that he or she tends to have debili-
tating self-talk concentrated in one of the categories.
Once the self-statements are classified, the leader introduces
the students to the corresponding categories of facilitating or
1) nurturing or accepting:
these statements emphasize our "OK-ness" and essential worth.
It will be all right.
I don't need to be perfect to be O.K.; I'm a good person.
these statements put the problem in a reasonable context.
I can't be perfect, I can only do my best.
I'll be disappointed if I fail but I'll live through it.
I'll do my best and not worry about other people's responses.
these statements help us decide what specific steps are
contained in the task and how to best approach the task.
- 87 -
One problem at a time.
What am I being asked to do here, what are the key words?
The leader then asks the students to formulate coping self-
statements in the corresponding positive category for each of their
negative self-statements and to write them down. Then the leader
should process this construction step in the large group. Have
sutdents give examples from each category, and discuss the state-
ments until these steps of classification and construction are
completely understood and accepted by the group members.
(If the STIRR acronym was used, the leader can point out to
tne students that these steps constitute the T--Think about what
yoi are saying to yourself--of STIRR.)
I. The following were taken from Meichenbaum (1977). Read and
li t them on the board.
Preparing for the stressor
W'at is you have to do?
Su can develop a plan to deal with it.
-st think about what you can do about it. That's better than
o negative self-statements; just think rationally.
Don't worry, worry won't help anything.
Confronting and handling the stressor
Just psychh" yourself up, you can meet this challenge.
One step at a time, you can handle this situation.
- 88 -
Don't think about fear, think about what you need to do. Stay
This anxiety is what you expected you would feel. It's a reminder
to use your coping exercises.
This tenseness can be an ally, a cue to cope.
Relax, you're in control. Take a slow deep breath. Stay calm.
Coping with the feeling of being overwhelmed
When fear comes, just pause.
Keep your focus on the present; what is it you have to do.
Don't try to eliminate your fear totally, just keep it manageable.
Describe what is around you. That way you won't think about
This will be over shortly.
Reinforcing oneself for having coped
It worked! You did it.
It wasn't as bad as you expected.
You made more out of the fear than it was worth.
Your damn ideas--they're the problem; when you control them you
control your fear.
you can be pleased with your progress.
(Note. Meichenbaum recommends having clients generate the coping
self-statements. You may wish to do this if time allows. Or you
may introduce these statements as "ones which previous students
- 89 -
The leader should then ask students to select from the provided
statements those which they feel would be useful. Students might
also want to construct personalized coping self-statements for each
of these stages, using the self-statements provided to them as
J. At this point, the leader needs to emphasize that discriminating
negative self-statements and constructing coping self-statements is
not all that is needed. The leader should ask the group members
what the remaining task or skill is, reviewing the model briefly
as appropriate to help them come up with the substitution step.
There are several aspects of substitution that the leader should
review in brief lecture.
1. Substitution is an active step. It's not enough to think
to oneself, "Oh, I shouldn't be thinking this." The student will
need to make the thought substitution overt at first so that the
change is obvious.
2. Because our thought patterns have become automatic, it
will be difficult to substitute thoughts at first. Repeated
practice, with gradual accomplishments, and self-reinforcement is
necessary. (The leader will find it helpful to read materials
on cognitive therapy for background knowledge.)
The leader should then demonstrate thought-stopping to the
group members with one group member as a client. The client
should be asked to visualize him or herself in a target situation