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Phonological Working Memory and Reading in Test Anxiety

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Texts were presented sentence by sentence (Experiment 1) or word by word (Experiment 2) at a fixed rate to subjects high or low in test anxiety, under various conditions: no interference, concurrent articulatory suppression, and concurrent irrelevant speech (presented auditorily). High-anxiety subjects produced overt articulation more frequently than low-anxiety subjects, especially in the irrelevant speech condition. The most salient finding was an interaction between anxiety and interference on comprehension performance: under word-by-word-but not under sentence-by-sentence-presentation, anxious subjects showed poorer comprehension than non-anxious subjects in both conditions known to interfere with the articulatory loop (i.e. articulatory suppression, and irrelevant speech), but equivalent comprehension in the no interference condition. These findings suggest (a) that the articulatory loop has a special compensatory role for anxious individuals in reading comprehension, and (b) that the importance of this auxiliary mechanism is enhanced when other strategies, such as regressive fixations and control of reading speed, cannot be used.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 1996

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