State test‐anxiety, selective attention and concentration in university students

Antonio Fernández‐Castillo, María J. Caurcel
Published Online:
08 Aug 2014
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 50 Issue 4

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The principal aim of this study was to assess the level of selective attention and mental concentration before exams in a sample of university students and to determine a possible relationship between anxiety and reduction of levels of attention in this circumstance. A total of 403 university students, 176 men and 227 women, aged from 18 to 46 years, participated in the study. Of them, 169 were first‐year undergraduates, 118 were second to fourth‐year undergraduates and 116 were postgraduate Master's degree students. All of them completed the Spanish version of the Spielberger State‐Anxiety Inventory and the D2 Attention Test just before taking an exam. Our results showed that participants with lower levels of anxiety had higher levels of selective attention and mental concentration before the exam. These results specifically indicate that when anxiety levels are very high, this could over‐activate the orientating and alerting functions and to reduce the capacity of attentional control. These processes could have a negative impact on specific attentional processes and become a negative influence on performance in exams.

© 2014 International Union of Psychological Science