Avoidance temperament and social-evaluative threat in college students' math performance: a mediation model of math and test anxiety. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Standardized testing has become a common form of student evaluation with high stakes, and limited research exists on understanding the roles of students' personality traits and social-evaluative threat on their academic performance. This study examined the roles of avoidance temperament (i.e., fear and behavioral inhibition) and evaluative threat (i.e., fear of failure and being viewed as unintelligent) in standardized math test and course grades in college students. DESIGN AND METHODS: Undergraduate students (N=184) from a large public university were assessed on temperamental fear and behavioral inhibition. They were then given 15 minutes to complete a standardized math test. After the test, students provided data on evaluative threat and their math performance (scores on standardized college entrance exam and average grades in college math courses). RESULTS: Results indicate that avoidance temperament was linked to social-evaluative threat and low standardized math test scores. Furthermore, evaluative threat mediated the influence of avoidance temperament on both types of math performance. CONCLUSIONS: Results have educational and clinical implications, particularly for students at risk for test anxiety and underperformance. Interventions targeting emotion regulation and stress management skills may help individuals reduce their math and test anxieties.

published proceedings

  • Anxiety Stress Coping

author list (cited authors)

  • Liew, J., Lench, H. C., Kao, G., Yeh, Y., & Kwok, O.

citation count

  • 35

complete list of authors

  • Liew, Jeffrey||Lench, Heather C||Kao, Grace||Yeh, Yu-Chen||Kwok, Oi-man

publication date

  • November 2014