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Virtual Reality Therapy: An Effective Treatment for the Fear of Public Speaking

"Studies on the implementation of virtual reality technology have been developed for a long time. Max, Sarah, and Coble's research in 1998 presented some evidence that VR can effectively treat the fear of public speaking."

Technology always comes with various positive impacts, including the utilization of technology for therapy to improve individual abilities. Through emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR), challenges in the form of fear of public speaking can be overcome. As we know, many individuals feel afraid to speak in front of many people. In this case, VR plays a very important role in treating these fears effectively. The explanation is contained in a study entitled "Virtual Reality Therapy: An Effective Treatment for the Fear of Public Speaking" by Max, Sarah, and Coble (1998). 

Previously, there was one interesting thing about the study, namely the year of publication in 1998. As we know, in that year, VR technology was still not as sophisticated as it is today and was still developing. In fact, Max, Sarah, and Coble (1998) reviewed the research with the aim of investigating the efficacy of Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) in the treatment of fear of public speaking. VR technology itself is an advanced technology capable of providing an interactive three-dimensional virtual world. The question is, how can this advanced technology effectively address the fear of public speaking? 

In their research, Max, Sarah, and Coble (1998) relied on a research method with an extensive two-stage screening process; sixteen subjects were selected from an introductory psychology class at Clark University Atlanta. They were assigned to two specific conditions: the VRT group and the comparison group. Furthermore, the researchers believe that the fear of public speaking is often touted as the most common social phobia. Age, gender, economic variables, or education do not limit social phobias such as this fear of public speaking. Subjects selected from introductory psychology classes volunteered to be respondents in this study.

A group of thirty-five students underwent an extensive two-stage screening process to ensure that they suffered from fear of public speaking and had no other serious physical or psychological conditions. Furthermore, the first stage of the screening process consisted of a series of questionnaires administered in a psychology class. They were exposed to a trivial Virtual Reality scene and advised by the researchers to manage their fear and expose themselves to the situation they were avoiding. This approach was used to offset the placebo effect. Furthermore, the subjects were asked not to communicate with other subjects and not to self-medicate with any relaxation.

As a result, no significant difference was seen between the two groups' pre-test scores on the instruments, indicating that both groups were matched for initial level of discomfort in public speaking. In contrast, significant differences were found between the pre-test scores and post-test scores of the VRT group on both instruments and between the post-test scores of both groups on both tests. These averages and test results showed that the post-test scores of the VRT group were significantly lower than the pre-test scores and post-test scores of the comparison group. This data shows that VR has made a significant impact on the level of panic and fear when speaking in public.

Once again, VR has realized its real impact on the world of therapy, especially in overcoming the fear of public speaking effectively. Max, Sarah, and Coble's (1998) research has been the initial evidence that has been around for decades. Through the comparison of the two research groups to examine the therapeutic effectiveness of VR in treating the fear of speaking in front of many people, this research presents a bright spot for the future of VR utilization.


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