In my last post I discussed how public speaking was the second biggest fear for US college students, surpassed only by the fear of spiders. I wondered how this compared with other college students around the world, and found two other recent surveys of social fears.
In 2007 Maria Tillors and Tomas Furmark published a paper on Social Phobia in Swedish University Students: prevalence, subgroups, and avoidant behavior. You can read the abstract here. They asked a sample of 523 students (34% men and 66 % women) to rate 14 potentially phobic situations on a social distress scale from 0 to 4 where (as in my previous post) 0 = none, 1 = mild, 2 = moderate, 3 = significant, 4 = severe. Results for significant or severe fears from their Table 5 are shown in the following bar chart. (Point to and click on it to see a larger, clearer version).
Speaking or performing in front of a group of people was feared by 18.7% of the sample - much more than any of the other situations.
In 2010 Parag S. Shah and Lakhan Kataria published a paper on Social Phobia and its Impact in Indian University Students. You can read the full text here. They asked a sample of 380 students ( 68 % men and 32 % women) to rate 10 situations on the Liebowitz social anxiety scale from 0 to 3 where 0 = none, 1= mild, 2 = moderate, 3 = severe. Results for moderate or severe fears from their Table 4 are shown in the following bar chart.
Acting, performing or giving a talk in front of an audience was feared by 31.65% of the sample, and again much more than any of the other situations.
A significant minority of college students (about 1/5 to 1/3) in these admittedly small samples find public speaking really scary.