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I Know You Can – So I Believe I Can

Research shows that people who have test anxiety perform better on a test when they are primed with competency before taking it.

Research shows that people who have test anxiety perform better on a test when they are primed with competency before taking it.

Do you ever get unusually anxious before taking a test? Do you ever choke and blank-out during a test? If so, research suggests you try thinking about a competent person before you take the test. You’ll perform better than you think you will. A study published in Psychological Science found that people who have test anxiety perform better on a test when they are primed with competency before taking it.

Volunteers were measured on their test anxiety, and were placed in either a competency prime group or a control group. The former were asked to read about someone who was successful at solving problems.  They had to write about that person’s abilities and describe how this person must have felt before he/she started solving the problem. All participants then completed a cognitive test.  Volunteers high in test-anxiety who thought about competency showed higher performance than the control group.

The findings show that people are capable of performing much better than they realize when they are primed beforehand with the idea that they are indeed capable.

ResearchBlogging.org

Lang, J.W., & Lang, J. (2010). Priming competence diminishes the link between cognitive test anxiety and test performance. Implications for the interpretation of test scores. Psychological Science, 21 (6), 811-9. doi: 10.1177/0956797610369492

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Comments

Jeff: Nice post. As you know priming has been in the literature for a long time. I believe its applications will be numerous. The great thing is that these applications are require so little to implement (beyond creativity, that is). Many clinicians are unaware of or not interested in priming, perhaps because it is so simple. With the explosions now occurring in cognitive psychology and neuroscience, there is no need to waste professional time and advocacy on regressive aspirations such as prescriptive authority for psychologists. Chris Barbrack.

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