OBJECTIVE: The objective of this paper is to investigate the role of test anxiety and memory self-efficacy on memory performances in older adults. METHOD: One hundred cognitively normal, community-dwelling older adults aged 65+ participated used in this experimental study. Participants completed baseline evaluations (including pre-test anxiety) prior to being assigned to one of two experimental conditions in which they experienced either success or failure on a verbal test. They subsequently completed post-test anxiety ratings, a measure of memory self-efficacy (Memory Self-Efficacy Questionnaire), and standardized tasks of working memory and verbal episodic memory. RESULTS: Following experimental manipulation, participants in the pre-test failure condition demonstrated higher anxiety and lower memory performances. Hierarchical regression revealed that change in anxiety from pre-test to post-test predicted memory performances and mediation analyses demonstrated that these effects were explained by lower memory self-efficacy. CONCLUSIONS: For older adults, experiencing test failure prior to memory testing may result in increased test anxiety and lower memory self-efficacy leading to poorer memory performance. This has implications for diagnostic cognitive assessment for older people.
- Older adults
- Test anxiety