Saturday, December 29, 2012

Jill wants a joint a lot more than Jack does

One of the more curious gender differences about public speaking I’ve seen this year was described in a magazine article by Julia D. Buckner, José Silgado, and Norman B. Schmidt titled Marijuana Craving During a Public Speaking Challenge: Understanding Marijuana Use Vulnerability among Women and those with Social Anxiety Disorder. It appeared in the Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 2011, Vol. 42, No. 1, on pages 104 to 110. You can read and download that article on PubMed Central. 

They studied a sample of sixty college undergraduates in the southern United States, all of who had reported using marijuana during the past one to three months. Half were given a reading task, and the other half were given a speech task. Craving for marijuana and anxiety both were rated on a scale from zero to ten.

The first task was silently reading Popular Mechanics magazine at their own pace for five minutes. This reading task was designed to not make them nervous (affect state social anxiety).

The second task was giving a five-minute speech about their most undesirable characteristic. They were informed that speech would be videotaped and evaluated by a small group of faculty and students. This speech task was designed to increase state social anxiety.   

They were asked about their anxiety level and craving for marijuana during the experiment at four times:

1. At baseline (prior to being told whether they were to be reading or speaking)
2. Immediately prior to the task (the anticipation phase)
3. 2.5 minutes into the task (the during phase)
4. Immediately after the task

Section 3.4 of the article discussed the effects of the speech on marijuana craving by gender. The graph shown above combines what was shown in Figure 1 of the article. For men the craving was relatively small and roughly constant (about 1.5), while for women it was much larger and peaked during the speech (at about 6.75). The reading task resulted in lower cravings that were roughly constant - about 3.0 for women and 0.5 for men. A similar peak also was observed for people with social anxiety disorder. Very curious! 

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