Psychology ETDs

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Three components of motivating instructions typically used to elicit performance decrements in high test-anxious Ss were investigated to determine whether: (a) the mention of a test, (b) identifying the test as an intelligence test, or (c) suggesting evaluation in relation to a peer-group is primarily responsible for the observed decrement. High and low test-anxious Ss were given 12 paired-associate lists of English word pairs, with the experimental instructions given between the 8th and 9th lists. Analyses of post-instruction changes in learning behavior revealed significant differences only between the instruction condition containing the full set of components and the controls. These changes were found to be a product of an increase in both non-responses and incorrect alternative responses. This finding was regarded as detrimental to the interfering response theory of test anxiety proposed by Sarason (1960). The magnitude of the performance decrement produced by the instructions was found to be inversely related to the Ss' level of performance before the instruction was given, and no decrement occurred in Ss at the highest levels of task proficiency. It was suggested that increased emphasis be given to the analysis of individual performance changes in the study of test­-anxiety effects.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

David Wilmot Bessemer

Second Committee Member

Sidney Rosenblum

Third Committee Member

Karl Peter Koenig

Fourth Committee Member

Karl Peter Koenig



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Psychology Commons