Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Tables
 List of Figures
 Review of the related literatu...
 Appendix A: Social avoidance and...
 Appendix B: Revised shyness...
 Appendix C: A manual for stress...
 Appendix D: A manual for social...
 Appendix E: Informed consent
 Appendix F: Informed consent...
 Biographical sketch

Group Title: effects of stress inoculation training and conversation skills training on shy (communication-apprehensive) college students /
Title: The effects of stress inoculation training and conversation skills training on shy (communication-apprehensive) college students /
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00099090/00001
 Material Information
Title: The effects of stress inoculation training and conversation skills training on shy (communication-apprehensive) college students /
Physical Description: xi, 141 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Sellers, James E., 1952-
Publication Date: 1982
Copyright Date: 1982
Subject: Bashfulness   ( lcsh )
College students   ( lcsh )
Social skills -- Study and teaching   ( lcsh )
Behavior therapy   ( lcsh )
Counselor Education thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Counselor Education -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1982.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 135-139.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
Statement of Responsibility: by James E. Sellers.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00099090
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000334450
oclc - 09387542
notis - ABW4090


This item has the following downloads:

PDF ( 5 MBs ) ( PDF )

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
    List of Tables
        Page viii
    List of Figures
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
    Review of the related literature
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
    Appendix A: Social avoidance and distress scale items
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
    Appendix B: Revised shyness survey
        Page 75
        Page 76
    Appendix C: A manual for stress inoculation training
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
    Appendix D: A manual for social skills training
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
    Appendix E: Informed consent
        Page 130
    Appendix F: Informed consent form
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
    Biographical sketch
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
Full Text






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.







I. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . .

Overview of Shyness ........

Theoretical Assumptions .. . ........
Statement of Problem ......
Need . .. . . .
Statement of Purpose ......
Rationale .............
Research Hypotheses . . . . . . . .

Definition of Terms ........


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 .......

Communication-Apprehension .....
State versus Trait Apprehension .. ......

Social Skills Research and Training ....

Overview . ...
The Role of Controlling Variables in Shyness








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 E. INFORMED CONSENT . . . . . . . . 130




APPENDIS G. INFORMED CONSENT FORM . . . . ... ..... . 133

REFERENCES . .. . . . . . . . . . .. . . 135

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . . .. . . 140




Threctic and Parmia Traits . . . . . .


Results of MANOVA . . . . . . . .


SISST Means . . . . . . . . . .


SAD Means . . . . . . . . . .


Groups ... . . . . . . . . ...

. . . 22

. . . 55

. . . 57

. . . 57

. . . 57




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



James E. Sellers

August 1982

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.


Theoretical Assumptions

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.

-6 -

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,
or weak;
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

student population.

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 -

Research Hypotheses

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

interpersonal communication.

- 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

behavior therapies.

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

and assumptions.

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

are addressed.



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

are presented.

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.

16 -

- 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

of shyness.

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.
(p. 324)

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-

tent individual.

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 -

Table 1

Threctic and Parmia Traits

Low score on H-

threctic, H- (timid, shy,
restrained, sensitive,

shy, withdrawn

retiring in face of
opposite sex

emotionally cautious

apt to be emibttered

restrained, rule-bound

restricted interests

careful, considerate

High score on H+

Parmia H+ (adventurous,
"thick skinned," socially

vs. adventurous, likes meeting

vs. active, overt, interest in
opposite sex

vs. responsive, genial

vs. friendly


emotional and artistic

vs. carefree, does not see
danger signals

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

attractive characteristics.

- 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

social anxiety.

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
watching myself.
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-

conscious individual:

- 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

(1977) suggests:

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.
(p. 232)

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

socially anxious.

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

social situations.

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

or imagined.

- 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
coping mechanism.
5. Clients practice and rehearse these objectives.
(p. 147)

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.

Research Design

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

of shyness.


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.

Treatment Conditions

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
54 -

- 55 -

Dependent Variable:





Dependent Variable:





Dependent Variable:





Table 2

Results of MANOVA

PRCA-C and Revised Shyness Survey


2 30.58 15.29

24 467.71 19.49

26 498.30



2 27.12

24 5128.51

26 5155.63



2 168.45

24 720.21

26 888.67







- 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.

Table 3


PreSISST Means

CS Group 95.40

SI Group 95.57

NT Group 93.40

PostSISST Means




Table 4

SAD Means

PreSAD Means

CS Group 17.5

SI Group 16.6

NT Group 12.0

PostSAD Means



Table 5


CS Group

SI Group

NT Group

p = .011

p = .015

p = .80

- 58 -





80 CS

Pre Post

Figure 1











Pre Post

Figure 2




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.

Hypotheses Testing

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

cognitive measure.

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

treatment strategies.

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

70 -

treating the shy client with efficacious strategies and by continued

research on the outcome effects of such strategies.



Name Date

Instructions: Place a check in the true or false spaces provided

TRUE False

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
opposite sex.

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.

71 -

- 72 -

True False

17. Even though a room is full of strangers, I may enter
it anyway.
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 -



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
feel terrible.

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.





1. Do you consider yourself to be a shy person?
yes no

2. How shy are you when you feel shy?

extremely shy somewhat shy

very shy only slightly shy

moderately 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 -


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.







SPRING 1981b

- 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

and mastery.

Theoretical Background

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

1. Introduction

Education phase

Application self-statements

2. Review application self-statements

Application coping relaxation

3. Review application phase

Coping imagery brainstorm

Rehearsal phase

4. Rehearsal phase (continued)

Participants write contract


Session 1

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 task."

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

coping self-statements.

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

perceived deficiencies.

You dummy!

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

a date.

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 -

3) off-task:

these statements are thoughts irrelevant to the task we

are trying to complete.

No one else ever has any trouble meeting people.

It's hopeless.

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

coping self-talk.

1) nurturing or accepting:

these statements emphasize our "OK-ness" and essential worth.

It will be all right.

It's O.K.

I don't need to be perfect to be O.K.; I'm a good person.

2) reasonable:

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.

3) on-task:

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

getting anxious.

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

found helpful.")

- 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

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs