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Title:The Influence of Task- Versus Self-Focus on Children's Achievement Performance and Attributions
Author(s):Wigfield, Allan Lee
Department / Program:Education
Discipline:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Education, Educational Psychology
Abstract:Previous research has shown that high-anxious persons generally perform less well than low-anxious persons in evaluative situations. One explanation for this is that high-anxious persons attend less well to task demands, because they are overly preoccupied with self-doubt. Low-anxious persons focus more on task demands. The present research investigated how self-focus versus task-focus instructions influenced the performance and attributions for performance of high- and low-anxious children. It was expected that task-focus instructions would benefit high-anxious children's performance.
High- and low-anxious children (identified by a test anxiety questionnaire) in second-, third-, fifth- and sixth-grade recalled a story under either self-focusing (telling children performance reflects on ability) or task-focusing (telling children to concentrate on the task) instructions. Following recall, half the children in each condition were given success feedback and half failure feedback. Children then made causal attributions for their performance.
Results showed that children in the task-focus condition remembered more than children in the self-focus condition. Older children remembered more than younger children. Older high- and low-anxious children performed similarly in both conditions. Younger high-anxious children performed similarly in both conditions, but younger low-anxious children in the task-focus condition performed better than the other younger groups.
High- and low-anxious children differed little in their performance attributions. Children in the task-focus condition blamed external factors such as task difficulty for their failure more than did children in the self-focus condition. Younger children attributed success more to luck and less to ability than did older children, and blamed failure more on lack of ability than did older children. There were few sex differences in attributions.
The task-focusing instructions helped younger low-anxious children to remeber better, rather than benefitting high-anxious children's performance. Such instructions may have benefitted the younger children more because their memory strategies were less well developed. Generally, anxiety appeared to have less influence on performance and attributions in this study than in previous work.
Issue Date:1982
Type:Text
Description:241 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/68812
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8218586
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1982


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