Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

November 1996


Motivation and Emotion, Vol. 20, No. 4 (1996). Copyright © 1996 Plenum Publishing Corporation. Used by permission.


We examined the relationship between trait measures of general appraisal and test anxiety, state measures of stress appraisals, affect, and intrusive cognition, andperformance measures on two cognitive tests (mental math and Raven matrices). Participants were randomly assigned to threat, challenge, or control conditions that were created by manipulating both primary and secondary appraisals. We predicted that the threat condition would lead to more negative affect, stress appraisals, intrusive cognitions, and more errors. While our manipulated conditions led to inconsistent effects, path analyses tended to confirm predictions that negative task appraisals and trait test anxiety lead to negative affect and to intrusive cognitions, and that for mental math test performance a path from intrusive cognitions to test errors was established. Theimportance of understanding dispositional and situational variables and their interactions during stress encounters are discussed, as is future research involving the general appraisal dimension.