The role of culture and other predictors in test anxiety

Sarah I Rubin, Pace University


The nature of test anxiety, what causes it, and how one can treat it has been an area of concern to psychologists and educators for many years. Test anxiety research has prospered because test situations occur frequently and assume much importance in the lives of many people in all school environments, public and private, grade school through college. Estimates on the prevalence of test anxiety among a school aged population range from 10–30%. Test anxiety is a pervasive condition among college students (Clawson, 1981). These implications demand that the factors that impact test anxiety be looked at, so that methods for reduction of test anxiety can be tailored to the student, and implemented by school psychologists, perhaps thereby reducing test anxiety, and ultimately improving students performance. Test anxiety has been found to be correlated with poor performance and relating inversely to individuals' self-esteem, and directly to fears of negative evaluation, defensiveness and other forms of anxiety. While research alludes to some link or overlap between test anxiety, performance, self-esteem, trait anxiety, cultural or ethnic background, and other demographic variables such as gender, there are not enough studies to properly assess the connection and therefore to ultimately devise interventions that will assist university students, with sensitivity to their individual needs in regards to their test anxiety. Aspects of self-esteem, an individual's culture, anxiety levels, gender, and other demographic factors would seem to be important aspects to look at together when investigating factors that impact upon test anxiety. Based on the presented literature the following hypothesis was generated: Cultural variables, which include cultural values, ethnicity, and assimilation would significantly contribute to the prediction of test anxiety above that of traditional known predictors of self-esteem, trait anxiety, and gender. To test this hypothesis this study looked at factors that have previously been shown to have a variable effect upon the outcome of test anxiety, in addition to looking at how the students cultural background and cultural values may effect the outcome of test anxiety. This was looked at by studying a population of culturally diverse inner city students and included the broad ethnic grouping of Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, and Caucasians. Results of a regression analysis showed unique contributions of Western vs. Eastern cultures, self-esteem, gender, and state anxiety such that people who are test anxious tend to come from a Western culture, have lower self-esteem, are female, and have state anxiety. Set-wise regression analysis indicated that culture does not contribute to the prediction of test anxiety above and beyond known predictors of test anxiety. Outcomes of this study are discussed in relation to possible enhancements of school psychologists methods for working with test anxious students. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Educational evaluation|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|African Americans

Recommended Citation

Rubin, Sarah I, "The role of culture and other predictors in test anxiety" (1999). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9934570.



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