Attributional patterns as predictors of task-associated anxiety

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The present study was designed to examine attributional patterns as predictors of task-associated anxiety. The attribution model suggests that confirmation or disconfirmation of expectancy determines attributional patterns. Consistency between expectancy and performance results in stable attributions for performance, while inconsistency results in unstable attributions. Expected failure attributed to stable factors was proposed to result in greater task-associated anxiety than unexpected failure attributed to unstable cause.

In the present study, one hundred and thirty-three undergraduates were assigned to one of four groups (in one of two task areas—mathematics and English) following assessment of attributional patterns, performance, and task-associated anxiety.

Group 1 Expect Failure Failure Performance

Group 2 Expect Failure Success Performance

Group 3 Expect Success Success Performance

Group 4 Expect Success Failure Performance

Expectancy for failure was determined by an expected grade less than the subject-defined success grade. Expectancy for success was determined by an expected grade greater than or equal to the subject-defined success grade. Success/failure performance was determined by the acceptability or unacceptability of the actual grade. No substantial support was found for the attribution model.

In conclusion, results were discussed in terms of methodological and measurement limitations. Implications for the failure to find the predicted results were discussed in terms of these limitations and the expanded attributional model.