Thursday, October 18, 2012

In a 2012 study of U.S. university students, fear of public speaking was ranked sixth

In May 2012 Stephanie M. Guillemette published her Honors College thesis in Psychology at the University of Maine titled A Study of Childhood and Late Adolescent Fear: The Role of Fear in Socioemotional Functioning. She studied 70 college students (aged 18 to 25 - 52 females and 18 males) using two similar fear surveys: the Louisville Fear Survey for Present Day (LFSP), and the Louisville Fear Survey for Childhood (LFSC) which asked about childhood memories from ages 5 to 13 years. Both surveys included 74 items to be ranked for intensity on a scale from 0 (no fear) to 100.  Her survey results are shown starting on page 19 with top ten lists, and continuing with all the data.   

A bar chart shown above lists the top 25 fears for those students. (Click on it to see a larger, clearer version). The greatest fear was someone in family dying, followed by having someone ill in the family, dying, getting cancer, being the victim of a crime, and public speaking. The sixth place ranking for public speaking is consistent with two other surveys of U.S. university students that I recently discussed. In a 1992 survey it was ranked sixth for men and eighth for women, and in a 1965 survey it was ranked sixth for men and seventh for women.

Another bar chart lists the top 25 fears remembered from childhood. The greatest fear also was someone in the family dying, but now public speaking only was ranked 13th.   

An image of the Mall at the University of Maine came from Wikimedia Commons.

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