Mild test anxiety influences neurocognitive performance among African Americans and European Americans: identifying interfering and facilitating sources

Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2015 Jan;21(1):105-13. doi: 10.1037/a0037530. Epub 2014 Aug 11.


The current study examined ethnic/racial differences in test-related anxiety and its relationship to neurocognitive performance in a community sample of African American (n = 40) and European American (n = 36) adults. The authors hypothesized the following: (a) Test-anxiety related to negative performance evaluation would be associated with lower neurocognitive performance, whereas anxiety unrelated to negative evaluation would be associated with higher neurocognitive performance. (b) African American participants would report higher levels of anxiety about negative performance evaluation than European Americans. (c) European Americans would report higher levels of anxiety unrelated to negative performance evaluation. The first two hypotheses were supported: Ethnic/racial differences in test-taking anxiety emerged such that African Americans reported significantly higher levels of negative performance evaluation, which was associated with lower cognitive performance. The third hypothesis was not supported: African Americans and European Americans reported similar levels of test-anxiety unrelated to negative evaluation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Anxiety / ethnology*
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Performance Anxiety / ethnology*
  • Performance Anxiety / etiology
  • Performance Anxiety / psychology*
  • United States
  • Whites / psychology*