Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Qin Zhao (Director), Aaron Wichman, Andrew Mienaltowski

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This paper examined the effects of distance priming on test anxiety and judgment. Research suggests that individuals’ perceived distance can impact their affect and judgments, which sheds light on the principle of “distance equals safety” (Williams & Bargh, 2008). Taking an exam invokes both cognitive and emotional anxiety, such as worry, panic, and tension. It is hypothesized that the distance priming may reduce test anxiety—particularly, the emotionality aspect—as well as perceived test difficulty. The results showed that, counter to the hypotheses, there was no significant difference among the three priming groups in their emotional test anxiety or perceived test difficulty. There is a significant correlation between ACT score and cognitive test anxiety, supporting past literature that as one’s intellectual ability increases, their cognitive test anxiety decreases. Further research needs to be conducted to replicate the efficacy of the priming method by Williams and Bargh (2008) and to use more effective ways of provoking performance anxiety.


Cognition and Perception | Cognitive Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts | Psychology