Reappraising stress arousal improves affective, neuroendocrine, and academic performance outcomes in community college classrooms.
Published on Jul 22, 2021in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General
· DOI :10.1037/XGE0000893
The field experiment presented here applied a stress regulation technique to optimize affective and neuroendocrine responses and improve academic and psychological outcomes in an evaluative academic context. Community college students (N = 339) were randomly assigned to stress reappraisal or active control conditions immediately before taking their second in-class exam. Whereas stress is typically perceived as having negative effects, stress reappraisal informs individuals about the functional benefits of stress and is hypothesized to reduce threat appraisals, and subsequently, improve downstream outcomes. Multilevel models indicated that compared with controls, reappraising stress led to less math evaluation anxiety, lower threat appraisals, more adaptive neuroendocrine responses (lower cortisol and higher testosterone levels on testing days relative to baseline), and higher scores on Exam 2 and on a subsequent Exam 3. Reappraisal students also persisted in their courses at a higher rate than controls. Targeted mediation models suggested stress appraisals partially mediated effects of reappraisal. Notably, procrastination and performance approach goals (measured between exams) partially mediated lagged effects of reappraisal on subsequent performance. Implications for the stress, emotion regulation, and mindsets literatures are discussed. Moreover, alleviating negative effects of acute stress in community college students, a substantial but understudied population, has potentially important applied implications. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).