Effects of Improvisation Training on Student Teachers’ Behavioral, Neuroendocrine, and Psychophysiological Responses during the Trier Social Stress Test

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Seppänen , S , Toivanen , T , Makkonen , T , Jääskeläinen , I P , Anttonen , M & Tiippana , K 2020 , ' Effects of Improvisation Training on Student Teachers’ Behavioral, Neuroendocrine, and Psychophysiological Responses during the Trier Social Stress Test ' , Adaptive human behavior and physiology , vol. 6 , no. 3 , pp. 356-380 . https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-020-00145-1

Title: Effects of Improvisation Training on Student Teachers’ Behavioral, Neuroendocrine, and Psychophysiological Responses during the Trier Social Stress Test
Author: Seppänen, Sirke; Toivanen, Tapio; Makkonen, Tommi; Jääskeläinen, Iiro P; Anttonen, Mikko; Tiippana, Kaisa
Other contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Educational Sciences
University of Helsinki, Learning, Culture & Interventions (LECI)
University of Helsinki, Department of Psychology and Logopedics
University of Helsinki, Medicum
University of Helsinki, Department of Psychology and Logopedics







Date: 2020-09
Language: eng
Number of pages: 25
Belongs to series: Adaptive human behavior and physiology
ISSN: 2198-7335
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-020-00145-1
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/319719
Abstract: Objectives Teaching involves multiple performance situations, potentially causing psychosocial stress. Since the theater-based improvisation method is associated with diminished social stress, we investigated whether improvisation lessened student teachers’ stress responses using the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST; preparatory phase, public speech, and math task). Moreover, we studied the influence of interpersonal confidence (IC) – the belief regarding one’s capability related to effective social interactions – on stress responses. Methods The intervention group (n = 19) received a 7-week (17.5 h) improvisation training, preceded and followed by the TSST. We evaluated experienced stress using a self-report scale, while physiological stress was assessed before (silent 30-s waiting period) and during the TSST tasks using cardiovascular measures (heart rate, heart rate variability [HRV]), electrodermal activation, facial electromyography (f-EMG), and EEG asymmetry. Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA-axis) reactivity was assessed through repeated salivary cortisol sampling. Results Compared to the control group (n = 16), the intervention group exhibited less f-EMG activity before a public speech and higher HRV before the math task. The low IC intervention subgroup reported significantly less stress during the math task. The controls showed a decreased heart rate before the math task, and controls with a low IC exhibited higher HRV during the speech. Self-reported stress and cortisol levels were positively correlated during the post-TSST preparatory phase. Conclusions These findings suggest that improvisation training might diminish stress levels, specifically before a performance. In addition, interpersonal confidence appears to reduce stress responses. The decreased stress responses in the control group suggest adaptation through repetition. Keywords: Improvisation; Anticipatory anxiety; Interpersonal confidence; Psychophysiology; Teacher education; Trier Social Stress Test
Subject: 516 Educational sciences
improvisation
drama education
teacher education
Psychophysiology
anticipatory anxiety
Improvisation
Anticipatory anxiety
Interpersonal confidence
Psychophysiology
Teacher education
Trier social stress test
HEART-RATE-VARIABILITY
BRAIN ELECTRICAL-ACTIVITY
SALIVARY CORTISOL
EVALUATIVE THREAT
HPA AXIS
EEG
ASYMMETRY
ANXIETY
GUIDELINES
EXPOSURE
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