Category: Research Methods and Statistics
Background. Exposure therapy is effective for addressing social anxiety and public speaking fears, yet there are procedural differences in suggested exposure strategies among empirically supported, manualized treatments. Manualized exposure strategies differ in the relative theoretical emphasis that underpins the specific procedural approach. Some approaches rely more heavily on the principle of habituation and formal cognitive restructuring; alternative approaches emphasize inhibitory learning and the individual's response to his/her own negative emotions, while promoting present-focused awareness. Innovative process methods can shed light on the similarities and differences between these approaches. Objectives. The goal of this study was to examine differences in anxious arousal between these exposure approaches, while testing the feasibility of recently developed social sensing technology (“Sociometric Badges”) for data collection during a public speaking exposure task. Method: Data were collected from a sample of N = 66 socially anxious undergraduate students who were randomly assigned to one of two public speaking exposure conditions: (a) procedures that emphasized habituation, or (b) procedures that emphasized inhibitory learning. Sociometric badges were used to measure each participant’s vocal fundamental frequency (F0) time series, which is an indicator of anxious arousal. Participants also completed self-report measures of anxiety and emotion regulation prior to the exposure task. Results/Expected Results. Although F0 observations demonstrated internal consistency based on time series autocorrelations, self-report symptoms of social anxiety did not display a significant correlation with average F0. No between-conditions differences in average within exposure F0 were observed based on logistic regression and t-test analyses. Nonetheless, longitudinal (intra-exposure) patterns of change in anxious arousal (F0) will also be examined and presented, including observed within-condition and between-condition differences in F0 variability. Conclusion. Badge technology may be a useful tool for investigating exposure mechanisms. Despite theoretical differences, habituation and inhibitory learning-focused strategies appear to promote similar average levels of within exposure arousal. Further analyses will examine potential between-group differences in longitudinal patterns of intra-exposure anxious arousal.