Friday, August 23, 2013

Performing or giving a talk in front of an audience is the most common social fear for people in the Canadian military

Between May and December 2002 there was a survey on social fears done on a sample of people on active duty in the Canadian military. There were 5155 from the Regular force and 3286 from the Reserve, for a total of 8441. The total responding was about 80%, or 6842. Results were analyzed and eventually published in an article by Amber A. Mather, Murray B. Stein, and Jitender Sareen in the October 2010 issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research and titled Social Anxiety Disorder and Social Fears in the Canadian Military: prevalence, comorbidity, impairment, and treatment seeking. You can read an abstract here. Table 2 listed how prevalent 13 fears were. Those results are shown in the following bar chart. (Click on it to see a larger, clearer version).

Performing/giving a talk in front of an audience was the most common fear (17.3%), followed by speaking up in a meeting/class (15.7%), meeting new people (15.0%), talking to people in authority (13.3%), and taking important exam/interviewing for job, even though prepared (13.0%). Then came almost a tie between attending parties/social gatherings (11.2%) and talking with people you don’t know well. Another tie followed for entering a room where others are already present (10.7%) and working while someone watches (10.7%). Going on a date was tenth (10.2%), immediately followed by expressing disagreement to people you don’t know well (9.8%) and finally there were writing/eating/drinking while someone watches (5.0%) and using a bathroom away from home/public bathroom (4.3%). Some other social/performance situation was feared by 15.0%, and 19.6% had at least one social fear.    

The two most common fears were the same as those found in a previous article on Canadian civilians. Fear of performing/giving a talk in front of an audience (17.3%) was a couple percent higher than the 15.1% found by Stein, Torgrud and Walker for the general public in Alberta and Manitoba. Fear of speaking up in a meeting/class (15.7%) was slightly higher than the 14.4% found by the Stein, Torgrud and Walker article, which I’ve previously blogged about back in 2009.  

The image of Canadian Forces came from here.


Public Speaking Training said...

Military men having the fear of public speaking might sound ironic to many people. However, we must realise that speech anxiety is a psychological thing and, being a social fear, it has little to do with physical strength or muscles.

Like most ordinary civilians with similar issues, persistent public speaking is the surest way to overcome this phobia. Add to that a healthy self-esteem...a very, very health one. (Soldiers normally have no problem with this part!)

Communicator said...

I quite agree. Public speaking phobia has next to nothing to do with physical strength and military training. It's in the mind. That's what it so hard for many people.