Trait and state anxiety: Relations to executive functioning in an at-risk sample

Alexandra Ursache, C. Cybele Raver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prior research with adults suggests mixed evidence for the relations of state and trait anxiety to prefrontal executive functions (EF). Trait anxiety is hypothesised to impair the efficiency of prefrontal areas and goal-directed attention and has been largely associated with poorer performance on executive functioning tasks. Fewer studies have investigated state anxiety, and the findings have been mixed. As studies of these processes in children have been limited by small sample sizes and a focus on working memory, we examine whether state and trait anxiety are associated with performance on two EF tasks in a sample of urban, low-income children, ages 9-12. Results indicated that higher trait anxiety predicted lower executive functioning on both tasks. In addition, higher state anxiety was related to better performance on the Stroop task. Results demonstrate that, consistent with the adult literature, higher trait anxiety is related to lower executive functioning in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)845-855
Number of pages11
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014


  • Executive function
  • State anxiety
  • Trait anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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