Journal Article

Seeing is relieving: Effects of serious storytelling with images on interview performance anxiety


Serious storytelling as a media genre has the potential to accentuate the benefits of narrative interventions in health and education. To inform its application, it is necessary to identify effects of sensory inputs. Here, we focus on visual stimuli and observe their effects on an anxiety condition. We examine whether serious storytelling incorporating images, a type of basic visual stimuli, may reduce interview performance anxiety. In a double-blind randomised control trial, 69 participants with matched levels of anxiety received serious storytelling interview training and were allocated to exposure (image-based preparation) and control (standard preparation) groups. A week later, participants attended individual interviews with two independent interviewers and reported their interview anxiety. Analyses revealed a positive relationship between generalised anxiety and some dimensions of interview anxiety, but serious storytelling with images predicted a reduction in interview performance anxiety (effect size at the median value of covariates on a visual analogue scale with the range 0–100: -36.7, 95% CI [−54.7, −2.5]). Low participation burden in the brief intervention was confirmed through a deductive thematic analysis. The images were analysed based on format type and origin to inform further inquiries. This study yielded empirical findings with implications of media and technology development for serious storytelling. Seeing images of experiences during interview preparation was associated with a relief of interviewees’ anxiety towards interview performance, but further studies are necessary to consolidate the evidence for visual narrative applications in health and education.

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Lin-Stephens, Serene
Manuguerra, Maurizio
Bulbert, Matthew W.

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences


Year of publication: 2022
Date of RADAR deposit: 2022-07-07

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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