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Anxiety Measures in Adults who do and do not Stutter During two Virtual Speaking Tasks Open Access

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Quantifying relationships between stuttering and anxiety typically occurs in experimental studies that are designed to systematically control variables thought to influence anxiety and stuttering. Virtual reality (VR) environments allow for immersion in speaking environments that mimic real-life interactions (Brundage, Hancock, Kiselewich, Graap, Brooks, & Ferrer, 2007). Our research question was: Is there a difference between adults who stutter (AWS) and adults who do not stutter (AWNS) in physiologic and verbal-cognitive/behavioral anxiety measures during speeches given in two settings? Ten AWS and 10 age and gender matched AWNS gave four-minute speeches to a virtual audience and to a virtual empty room. Statistical analysis revealed no significant differences in measures of galvanic skin response (GSR), heart rate (HR), and respiration rate (RESP) or Subjective Units of Distress (SUDS) between groups or within settings. There was a significant increase in SUDS ratings when giving a speech to the virtual audience for both groups.

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