ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 7, Issue 3, 374-390, 2016
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Test Anxiety and Children’s Working Memory Task Performance: Does Trait or State Anxiety Matter More?

  EeLynn Ng - National Institute of Education, Singapore
  Kerry Lee - National Institute of Education, Singapore

Volume 7, Issue 3, 2016, Pages 374-390


This study examined the effects of trait test anxiety versus state anxiety on children’s working memory task performance. Participants (N = 113; 11-year-olds) completed a mental arithmetic and memory recall task under high and low situational stress conditions. State anxiety was assessed using both subjective (i.e., self-reports) and physiological (i.e., cortisol) measures. Measures of task accuracy and accuracy/response time served as indicators of performance effectiveness and processing efficiency. The growth modelling approach was used to examine patterns of change in cortisol levels across time. The key finding of this study is that trait test anxiety has a direct and detrimental effect on working memory task performance. This effect was not mediated by state anxiety, regardless of whether the role of trait test anxiety was examined in conjunction with subjective or physiological state anxiety. Our findings provide further evidence in support of the attentional control theory.

Table of Contents
 Test Anxiety and Cognitive Performance
 Trait Test Anxiety and State Anxiety
 The Current Study
 Participants and Design
 Experimental Task
 Manipulation of Situational Stress
  Trait test anxiety.
  Self-reported state anxiety.
  Physiological state anxiety.
 Analysis Plan
 Preliminary Analyses
 Results of Path Analyses
 Results of Latent Growth Curve Analyses
 Limitations and Future Directions

Correspondence to
EeLynn Ng, Education and Cognitive Development Lab, National Institute of Education, 1 Nanyang Walk, Singapore 637616

attentional control theory; processing efficiency theory; dual-task performance; academic achievement

Received 31 Dec 2015; Revised 4 May 2016; Accepted 4 May 2016; In Press 16 May 2016

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