The effects of electromyorgraphic biofeedback on test anxiety and performance Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/1g05fg92j

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  • The applicability of electromyographic biofeedback toward alleviating test taking anxiety was examined along with the effects of relaxation training on general anxiety, locus of control, test performance, and muscle tension during a test. The Achievement Anxiety Test (AAT) was administered to 271 freshman psychology students. Students whose scores indicated high levels of test anxiety were invited to participate in the study. Twenty-seven volunteers were randomly assigned to three groups. Biofeedback (B) subjects received verbal instructions and muscle tension (EMG) biofeedback. Instruction-control (IC) subjects received verbal relaxation instructions alone. A second control group (C) received no treatment. B and IC subjects received eight half-hour relaxation sessions spread over four weeks. Forehead EMG was monitored during each session. Several self-report measures were administered to all subjects before and after training. They included the AAT, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), and the Rotter Locus of Control (I-E) Scale. Additionally, forehead muscle tension data were collected on all subjects while they completed an easy and a hard form of the Raven Progressive Matrices test (presented with ego-involving instructions). Equivalent forms of the tests were used pre and post, and the forms were counterbalanced across subjects. Analysis of the EMG data collected during relaxation training indicated that B and IC subjects significantly reduced forehead muscle tension but did not differ from each other. EMG biofeedback appears to add little to the effectiveness of brief relaxation instructions and practice. Analysis of anxiety measures indicated that B and IC subjects changed significantly pre to post while C subjects changed very little. No between -group differences were found on any of the measures. On the I-E scale, only IC subjects showed a significant shift toward being more internal, reflecting an increased belief in personal control. The effect of relaxation training on test performance and muscle tension during testing was evaluated with an analysis of variance. Within-group EMG and performance changes were nonsignificant, suggesting there was no generalization of training effects. In addition, EMGs did not differ between Easy and Hard tests, although performance scores indicated there were real differences in test difficulty. The effects of relaxation training in this study are clearly limited to the reduction of resting forehead muscle tension and self-report anxiety. No training effects were found on test performance or EMG during testing. These results are due either to the methodological limitations of a laboratory testing situation, or that forehead EMG is not as good a measure of anxiety as other researchers have suggested.
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