Implementation intentions and test anxiety: Shielding academic performance from distraction

Elizabeth J. Parks-Stamm, Peter M. Gollwitzer, Gabriele Oettingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


College students whose test anxiety was measured completed a working memory-intensive math exam with televised distractions. Students were provided with implementation intentions (if-then plans; Gollwitzer, 1999) designed to either help them ignore the distractions (i.e., temptation-inhibiting plans) or focus more intently on the math exam (i.e., task-facilitating plans). Regression analyses showed that as test anxiety increased, the effectiveness of temptation-inhibiting implementation intentions increased, whereas task-facilitating implementation intentions increasingly harmed performance as test anxiety increased. In addition, the consequences of these plans differed significantly for those high in test anxiety. Implications for effective self-regulation by test-anxious students are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-33
Number of pages4
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Distraction
  • Goal shielding
  • Implementation intentions
  • Plans
  • Test anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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