Effects of Public Speaking Trait Anxiety and Intensity of Speaking Task on Heart Rate During Performance

Michael Beatty, RALPH R. BEHNKE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations


The extant research examining the relationship between public speaking trait anxiety and heart rate has produced mixed findings. Some studies observe only weak relationships, whereas others report significant relationships between these variables. H. J. Eysetick has maintained that the degree of relationship between traits and heart rate depends on the stress levels under which the respondents perform when heart rate data are collected. An inspection of the existing studies shows that, consistent with Eysenck's observation, the studies reporting relationships between public speaking trait anxiety and heart rate were conducted under relatively low‐intensity conditions in comparison to those reporting no such relationships. In the present study, heart rates of both anxious and nonanxious speakers were measured under both high‐ and low‐intensity conditions. Results indicated that (a) heart rates of anxious speakers were significantly higher than those of nonanxious speakers when both performed under low‐intensity conditions, but (b) heart rates were not different for anxious and nonanxious speakers when performing in high‐intensity environments. These results provide a reconciliation of the inconsistent research findings and partially support the extension of Eysenck's conceptualization to communication apprehension theory and research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-176
Number of pages30
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language

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