Friday, March 25, 2011
Almost 1 in 4 Swedes fears public speaking
In 1999, results from a postal survey of 1,202 people of social fears in the general Swedish population were published. Results are shown above. Click the image to enlarge the bar chart. (The detailed reference is: T. Furmark, M. Tillfors, P.-O. Everz, I. Marteinsdottir, O. Gefvert, M. Frederikson, “Social phobia in the general population: prevalence and sociodemographic profile,”Soc. Psychiatry Psychiatr. Epidemol., V34, pages 416 to 424, 1999.) You can find an abstract here. Their data were collected from both urban Stockholm and rural Gotland.
Almost one in four people, or 24.0% reported a fear of public speaking, which was larger than any of the other 13 specific categories. Speaking was feared almost four times a much as being in the audience (being addressed in a group of people, 6.1%).
Fear of using public toilets came in second, at 11.1%. That fear ranks relatively much higher than in surveys of Americans or Canadians. It is not clear whether this fear is is a real cultural difference. Perhaps it is logical and just due to low temperatures in restrooms in winter. I’ve never been to Sweden, so I’m not sure why.
Dealing with authority figures was feared by only 3% of Swedes, which is relatively much less than for people in Hong Kong (where it was even larger than fear of public speaking).
It also is interesting to compare this survey with the later one of Swedish college students. Students found both making a phone call and attending a party to be much scarier than the general public did.