Getting Used to Academic Public Speaking: Global Self-Esteem Predicts Habituation in Blood Pressure Response to Repeated Thesis Presentations

Abstract

Global self-esteem was tested to predict quicker cardiovascular adaptation during stressful oral thesis presentation and faster habituation from the first to the second and third thesis presentations. Nineteen graduate students initially rated their global self-esteem and afterwards orally presented their theses proposals in 20-min presentations to their thesis supervisor and peers. A second and third presentation of the revised thesis concepts took place at 4-weeks intervals. Ambulatory blood pressure and heart rate were assessed repeatedly during the presentations. Post-talk self ratings of stressfulness indicated presentations to be a strong public speaking stressor. One hundred and thirty-eight measurements of systolic (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and heart rate (HR) showed a significant adaptation (decrease) during presentations. There was an overall mean level decrease from the first to the second, and the second to the third presentations in HR, but not in SBP and DBP. However, habituation in SBP and DBP across three presentations was significantly faster (p < .05) in those participants who initially reported higher levels of global self-esteem. Higher global self-esteem did not foster adaptation within the presentations. Self-esteem is discussed as an important individual resource that allows successful coping with recurring evaluative threats.

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Correspondence to Achim Elfering.

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Elfering, A., Grebner, S. Getting Used to Academic Public Speaking: Global Self-Esteem Predicts Habituation in Blood Pressure Response to Repeated Thesis Presentations. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback 37, 109–120 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10484-012-9184-3

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Keywords

  • Habituation
  • Self-esteem
  • Public speaking