Perceived fear appeals and examination performance: Facilitating or debilitating outcomes?

Dave Putwain, Wendy Symes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines whether students' perception of classroom fear appeals concerning a forthcoming high-stakes examination are associated with facilitating or debilitating performance outcomes. Self-report data were collected for perceived fear appeals, test anxiety and achievement goals from a sample of 273 students in their final year of secondary schooling along with their examination performance in a high-stakes Mathematics examination. Data were analysed using structural equation modelling and a mediated model accepted. The perceived frequency of fear appeals relating to the timing of examinations were positively related to examination performance through a mastery-approach goal and when fear appeals were perceived as threatening they were inversely related to examination performance through a performance-avoidance goal and both the worry and tension components of test anxiety. Given that perceived fear appeals are associated with mixed outcomes, teachers and educators should be advised to use fear appeals with caution. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-232
Number of pages5
JournalLearning and Individual Differences: journal of psychology and education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • Achievement goals
  • Fear appeals
  • Fear of failure
  • Motivation
  • Test anxiety


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