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Psychol Rep. 2001 Jun;88(3 Pt 2):947-64.

Stress in the relation between trait and state anxiety.

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SCO-Kohnstamm Institution for Educational Research, Department of Educational Science, Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam.


The relations of stress, trait anxiety, and state anxiety with cognitive performance are the central focus. Stress is conceived of as an external manipulation, trait anxiety as a relatively stable personality characteristic, and state anxiety as transient manifest feelings of insecurity. The influence of these factors on cognitive performance is considered. It was argued that the apparent interaction of stress and trait anxiety with cognitive performance can be traced to the interaction among stress, trait anxiety, and state anxiety. It was hypothesized that state anxiety increases more rapidly as a function of trait anxiety under stressful circumstances than neutral or rel atively reassuring circumstances. The negative relation between state anxiety and cog nitive performance is assumed to be constant irrespective of stress. Experimental evi dence supporting the latter supposition is presented. However, doubts are cast on classical intervention methods for invoking stress. Rather than assuming that these methods invoke stress, it is proposed that feelings of insecurity, associated with ambiguity, are determinants of experienced stress.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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