Public Speaking Aversion

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2020-074/I

32 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2021

See all articles by Thomas Buser

Thomas Buser

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE)

Huaiping Yuan

University of Amsterdam

Date Written: October 31, 2020


Fear of public speaking is very common but we know little about its economic implications. We establish public speaking aversion as an economically relevant preference using three steps. First, we use a lab and a classroom experiment to show that preferences for speaking in public vary strongly across individuals with many participants willing to give up significant amounts of money to avoid giving a short presentation in front of an audience. Second, we introduce two self-reported items to elicit preferences for speaking in public through surveys. We show that these items are strongly related to choices in the incentivized lab experiment and that public speaking aversion is distinct from established traits and preferences including extraversion. Finally, we elicit these items in a student survey and show that public speaking aversion predicts students' career expectations, indicating that it is an influential factor in determining career choices.

Keywords: public speaking, validated survey measures, human capital, career choice

JEL Classification: C91, D9, J24

Suggested Citation

Buser, Thomas and Yuan, Huaiping, Public Speaking Aversion (October 31, 2020). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2020-074/I, Available at SSRN: or

Thomas Buser (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE) ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, North Holland 1018 WB


Huaiping Yuan

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB

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