Citation (APA style): Lindinger-Sternart, S., Dollar, C., Jain, S., & Roberts, J. (2020). Group-based interventions and test-taking anxiety in male college students of varied ethnicities: The effect of positive psychology versus mindful diaphragmatic breathing. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 12(1), 13—27. doi:10.9769/EPJ.2020.12.1.SLS
Purpose: The aim of this experimental study was to investigate the post-intervention effects of group-based positive psychology and mindful diaphragmatic breathing on anxiety and test-taking success in male college students.
Method: A randomized controlled trial (RCT) was conducted across the undergraduate male students at a university in Montana. Participants (aged 18—32 years) were randomly assigned to two intervention groups (mindfulness and positive psychology) and a control (delayed intervention) group. The study included a group of 34 male participants with 10 in the mindfulness group, 12 in the positive psychology group, and 12 in the waiting group. Both intervention programs consisted of five 120-minute group sessions delivered over 10 weeks. All three groups were required to complete an assessment prior to the interventions and a second assessment after the interventions (mindfulness and positive psychology) or the waiting time (control group) were completed. The control group also received five 120-minute interventions after all measurements were taken. The constructs of self-care, test anxiety, and anxiety symptomatology were measured.
Results: There were no significant baseline differences between the three groups on the demographic and dependent variables. The results showed no significant differences between the two intervention groups’ and the control group’s self-care pre and post scores. Results showed a significant difference between the treatment groups’ and control group’s scores on pretest and posttest in test anxiety. The results showed a significant difference between the two intervention groups’ and control group’s scores on pretest and posttest in total anxiety. Anxiety levels were noted to be different for ethnic groups. An explanation for observed differences in race is discussed.
Conclusion: The study does not provide evidence that mindfulness and positive psychology interventions can reduce test anxiety significantly. The results show a significant difference between the two intervention groups’ and control group’s scores on pretest and posttest in total anxiety. Importantly, descriptive analysis has shown a positive impact on test anxiety and total anxiety in participants of varied ethnic groups.
Keywords: anxiety, test anxiety, college students, academic achievement, mindfulness, positive psychology