Study reveals one simple trick to reduce social anxiety.

By Seriously Science | March 20, 2014 6:00 am

Do you suffer from fear of public speaking? Do you dread having to make a good first impression? If so, this study is for you! Apparently, the words you use to talk to yourself could have a big impact in how you handle stressful social situations. More specifically, talking to yourself in third person and using your own name (e.g.,”Jane did a pretty good job in that presentation.”) was associated with less social anxiety than using first person (e.g., “I did a pretty good job on that presentation.”) because it allowed people to distance themselves during introspection. Just be careful that you don’t start referring yourself in third person out loud — that’s just weird.

Self-talk as a regulatory mechanism: how you do it matters.

“Does the language people use to refer to the self during introspection influence how they think, feel, and behave under social stress? If so, do these effects extend to socially anxious people who are particularly vulnerable to such stress? Seven studies explored these questions (total N = 585). Studies 1a and 1b were proof-of-principle studies. They demonstrated that using non-first-person pronouns and one’s own name (rather than first-person pronouns) during introspection enhances self-distancing. Studies 2 and 3 examined the implications of these different types of self-talk for regulating stress surrounding making good first impressions (Study 2) and public speaking (Study 3). Compared with the first-person group, the non-first-person group performed better according to objective raters in both studies. They also displayed less distress (Studies 2 and 3) and engaged in less maladaptive postevent processing (Study 3). Studies 4 and 5 examined how these different forms of self-talk influence the way people appraise social-anxiety-provoking events. They demonstrated that non-first-person language use (compared with first-person language use) leads people to appraise future stressors in more challenging and less threatening terms. Finally, a meta-analysis (Study 6) indicated that none of these findings were moderated by trait social anxiety, highlighting their translational potential. Together, these findings demonstrate that small shifts in the language people use to refer to the self during introspection consequentially influence their ability to regulate their thoughts, feelings, and behavior under social stress, even for vulnerable individuals.”

Related content:
NCBI ROFL: If you think you don’t suck, you probably do
NCBI ROFL: You probably think this paper’s about you: Narcissists’ perceptions of their personality and reputation.
NCBI ROFL: ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder’: People who think they are drunk also think they are attractive.

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Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
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