Applied Cognitive Psychology

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Goal (dis)engagement, emotions, and cognitions in an exam situation: A longitudinal study

Summary

Although a number of studies have addressed the interplay of achievement goals, cognitions, and emotions in academic settings, it remains largely unknown how the two latter change when students become aware that a performance goal was (un)accomplished. The current study used questionnaires assessing test‐related cognitions (perceived importance, interest, and attributions) and emotions before, during, and after an oral examination in order to investigate how students cope with a blocked academic goal. Students with blocked/unachieved goals devalued the importance of the examination, reported a decline in interest, and attributed the result more to external than internal reasons. Students who achieved their goal attributed the result equally to external and internal reasons and reported more gain‐related and less loss‐related emotions than unsuccessful students. The results indicate that students apply a goal disengagement strategy in order to cope with an unachieved goal as indicated by changes in cognitive and emotional processes alike.

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