Effects of decisional control on state anxiety and achievement

Giora Keinan, Moshe Zeidner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines the effects of decisional control on state anxiety and cognitive performance in a true-to-life evaluative situation. The analyses were based on the mathematics achievement and state anxiety scores of a sample of 74 eighth grade students randomly assigned to either a Decisional Choice or No Choice experimental condition. Students in the Decisional Choice Condition were given a short mathematics quiz consisting of 5 items of homogeneous difficulty level and instructed to respond to any 3 out of the 5 items. The No Choice condition was essentially the same, except that the students were given only the first three problems and instructed to answer all three. Upon completion of the quiz, students were asked to respond to the Hebrew version of Spielberger's State Anxiety Scale. The findings show that both male and female students tested under Decisional Choice conditions are less anxious and attain higher mathematics scores, on average, than those tested under No Choice conditions. The data support the notion that the provision of decisional choice in an evaluative situation enhances the examinee's perceived feeling of control over the source of the threat (i.e. the mathematics examination). This, in turn, allows more favorable psychological adjustments of one's 'interior mileau' to outside stimuli, thereby lowering state anxiety and concomitantly raising levels of test attainment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-975
Number of pages3
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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