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Heart Rate Changes in Children as a Function of Test versus Game Instructions and Test Anxiety

Susan A. Darley and Irwin Katz
Child Development
Vol. 44, No. 4 (Dec., 1973), pp. 784-789
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1127724
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1127724
Page Count: 6
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Heart Rate Changes in Children as a Function of Test versus Game Instructions and Test Anxiety
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Abstract

20 fifth-grade boys were individually given a quantitative estimations task while their cardiac responses were being continuously recorded. In the first part of the task all subjects received game instructions, and in the second part half received game instructions and half received test instructions. Upon completing the task, subjects filled out the Test Anxiety Scale for Children (TASC). It was found that heart rate accelerated after test instructions and decelerated after game instructions. These results-augmented by a pattern of marginally significant, p < .11, correlations- support the view that heart rate acceleration following test instructions reflected increased task motivation, and deceleration following game instructions reflected decreased task motivation, or relaxation. In general, the data tend to demonstrate the usefulness of using cardiac indices for studying test behavior and anxiety in children.

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