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Effects of empathy-based training on media anxiety in graduate psychology students

17 April 2001


This study examined the impact of a brief media skills training session on participants' level of media-specific anxiety and their willingness to interact with the news media. The participants were 56 graduate students in psychology. The Trained Group (n=2S) participated in a one hour media training session. This empathy-based training was designed to increase participants' awareness of common ground between the goals of the press and the goals of the mental health professions. Treatment for the Control Group (n=31) consisted of non-media related instruction in the context of a psychology class in which they were already participating. Both groups filled out pre- and post-training pencil-and-paper measures of general state anxiety, media-related anxiety when faced with a hypothetical news interview situation, willingness to work with the news media, and knowledge of "do's and don'ts" in a videotaped, role-played news interview vignette.
While neither group showed a significant change between pre- and post-treatment measures .of overall anxiety, the Trained Group showed a significant decrease in Media Anxiety compared to the Control Group. Participants' post-treatment level of Interview Knowledge showed a significant increase, both within and between groups. No significant change in Media Willingness was measured at any point.
The data suggest that even a brief empathy-based training session decreases
participants' level of media-related anxiety. The study concludes with suggestions regarding the direction of future research in this area.


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