Relationship Of Personal Significance, Uncertainty, Motivation To Task, And Evaluative Context To Test Anxiety

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology


A theoretical model was presented which predicted four essential elements which the literature has suggested are associated with high test anxiety among college students. Forty students were assigned to a total of eight groups comprising the four essential components. The essential elements predicted were: high personal significance, high uncertainty, high failure avoidance motivation, and evaluative context. The variables of significance and uncertainty were manipulated in accordance with the information given to students about the content and format of their mid-term examination. The student's failure avoidance motivation, a trait variable, was assessed using the Test Anxiety Questionnaire. Test anxiety was measured using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, under the conditions of an evaluative context in which a mid-term examination was given. Results of the study provide reasonable support for the validity of the theoretical model presented. The elements of high uncertainty and high personal significance were shown to predict high test anxiety, fairly consistently, under evaluative testing conditions. The component of high failure avoidance did not, but indicated a strong trend associated with high anxiety levels. Results of the study are presented with respect to the four components of the model. Each hypothesis is examined to determine if the factors of high significance, high failure avoidance, and high uncertainty significantly differentiate high- from low test-anxious students. Two possible explanations concerning the nonsignificance of the high failure avoidance component are discussed. These concern the possible disproportionate influence of the high failure avoidance variable to high test anxiety and the limitations of the Test Anxiety Questionnaire as a measure of failure avoidance motivation. Implications of the study and suggestions for future research are presented.


Education, Educational Psychology

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