Exams? Why worry? Interpreting anxiety as facilitative and stress appraisals

Juliane Strack*, Francisco Esteves

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Objectives: The present study examined why people differ in how they appraise the same stressful situation (an approaching exam). Design: We explored whether interpreting anxiety as a facilitative emotion can affect the type of stress appraisal people make. Method: One hundred and three undergraduate students took part in this study, which lasted for 10 days (leading up to an exam). The students completed a daily self-reported evaluation of anxiety, emotional exhaustion, and stress experienced. Results: The findings suggest a process by which a stressful time can be experienced as motivating rather than threatening or emotionally exhausting. For example, interpreting anxiety as facilitative moderated the relationship between anxiety and stress appraisals. When interpreting their anxiety as facilitative, individuals showed a higher tendency to make challenge stress appraisals and a lower tendency to appraising the stressor as a threat. These differences were especially visible with high levels of anxiety. Furthermore, interpreting anxiety as facilitative was negatively associated with emotional exhaustion, but positively associated with the academic performance. Conclusions: These findings suggest an explanation why people differ in how they appraise the same stressor: how people interpret their anxiety may to a large part affect how they appraise difficult events and situations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-214
Number of pages10
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Stress appraisals


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