Developing and piloting a dot-probe measure of attentional bias for test anxiety

Dave Putwain, Hannah Langdale, Kevin Woods, Laura Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Attentional bias is a key area of research in the clinical and trait anxiety literature. In test anxiety research, however, protocols and measures have yet to be reported. Accordingly, we describe the development of a dot-probe measure of attentional bias for test anxiety. This measure was piloted on a sample of undergraduate students who completed a short, timed, cognitive ability test under high and low performance-evaluation threat conditions. As expected, highly test anxious persons reported an attentional bias towards threat stimuli under the high performance-evaluation threat condition only, consistent with a switch from an avoidant to a vigilant mode of processing. Under the low performance-evaluation threat condition, both high and low test anxious persons showed a bias away from threat stimuli. These findings suggest that test anxiety, like clinical and high trait anxiety is also characterised by attentional bias where a disproportionate amount of attentional resource is directed towards corresponding threat (i.e. test-related) stimuli.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)478-482
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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