Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Communication Sciences and Disorders


Rachel Razza


anxiety, arousal, attention, language, stress

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Communicating under stress can have many effects on our bodies and minds, as well as the way that we produce language. The current study employed a pseudorandomized group design to compare individuals’ perceived anxiety, physiological arousal, physiological cognitive attention, and language production during stressful communication and non-stressful communication. Results indicated that the stressful communication protocol did not seem to affect individuals’ self-reported anxiety, as there were no differences between the high stress and low stress groups. No between-group differences were found in physiological arousal; however, results demonstrated that the high stress group experienced an increase in physiological arousal while speaking. No between-group or within-group differences were found physiological high vigilant attention. Results did not indicate that gross language output was affected by stressful communication, but there was evidence that stressful communication did have an adverse impact on syntactic complexity of language. However, there may also have been a task effect, as participants in the low stress group were more prepared for the task than the high stress group. This study provides evidence that stressful communication may affect physiological arousal and syntactic complexity of language.


Open Access

Available for download on Sunday, August 15, 2021