“The Thought Of Taking an Exam”
The stuff that nightmares are made of. Many a person has had the fear inducing dream that it is exam day and they are sitting in a classroom, at a desk with a test in front of them and BLANK…. they’re unprepared and freaking out! It’s enough to wake a person right out of their sleep.
Why do some students who do well in class and know the material still have negative emotional reactions to exams?
StudyingMe is an individualized audio tool focused as a source of self-empowerment. The recall of the learned subject matter and direct access to acquired information base become readily available as a result of entering into a state of certainty and positive self-efficacy. This newfound calm once achieved promotes a level of confident serenity that allows for a stress-free test-taking experience to occur.
‘Exam Anxiety’ is one of the leading causes of failure among otherwise good students worldwide. Our parent organization has known this for decades and has a proven track record of success in combating this issue with individuals in onsite campus settings. Addressing the underlying issues first that are causing the worry and fear leading to these stressors is key. We must take this step in order to change maladaptive behavior which is the internal response showing up as rapid heart rate, jitters, anxiety, nervous stomach, among other involuntary bodily responses to emotions that do not serve us.
The program in this site enables the Student/Member to achieve personal empowerment through a process that will ultimately result in their success!
First we must:
- Identify the irrational thoughts causing the negative reaction/stress
- Explain the likely origins of this negative self-talk
- Determine it to be false
- Choose new truths about ourselves
- Replace negative self beliefs with the truth about who we are
- Belief in our capabilities becomes our self-talk
- Anxiety no longer exists
The process guides members through the stages they will move along as they become part of an active web-experience generating success producing activities structured and selected specifically for their personal growth and education investment strategy.
Studyingme.com sees the merit in many different schools of thought from psychologists such as Beck, Ellis, Freud, Bandura and others. Our program was developed with a blending of the many viewpoints and theories. We will guide the student down a path of self discovery. Our inner thoughts and programming is uncovered and brought out into the light. We begin to study the things that make up who we are and how we tick. We begin to study ourselves. Knowledge is power.
People’s beliefs about their abilities have a profound effect on those abilities. Ability is not a fixed property; there is a huge variability in how you perform. People who have a sense of self-efficacy bounce back from failure; they approach things in terms of how to handle them rather than worrying about what can go wrong.”
Emotional Intelligence; why it can matter more than IQ Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control, 1996
In social cognitive theory, perceived self-efficacy to exercise control over potential threats plays a central role in anxiety arousal. Threat is a relational property reflecting the match between perceived coping capabilities and potentially hurtful aspects of the environment. People who believe they can exercise control over potential threats do not engage in apprehensive thinking and are not perturbed by them. However, those who believe they cannot manage threatening events that might occur experience high levels of anxiety arousal.
Experimental analyses of the micro relation between perceived self-efficacy and anxiety arousal reveal that perceived coping inefficacy is accompanied by high levels of subjective distress, autonomic arousal and catecholamine secretion. (a catecholamine secreted by the adrenal medulla in response to stress (trade name Adrenalin); stimulates autonomic nerve action. Type of: endocrine, hormone, internal secretion. the secretion of an endocrine gland that is transmitted by the blood to the tissue on which it has a specific effect.)
Environmental events are not always completely under personal control.The exercise of control over anxiety arousal, therefore, requires not only development of behavioral coping efficacy but also efficacy in controlling dysfunctional apprehensive cognitions. It is not frightful cognitions per se but the perceived self-inefficacy to turn them off that is the major source of anxiety arousal.
Analyses of the causal structure of self-protective behavior show that anxiety arousal and avoidant behavior are mainly co-effects of perceived coping inefficacy.
There are four mediational processes proposed by Bandura:
- Attention: The extent to which we are exposed/notice the behavior. For a behavior to be imitated it has to grab our attention. We observe many behaviors on a daily basis and many of these are not noteworthy. Attention is therefore extremely important in whether a behavior has an influence in others imitating it.
- Retention: How well the behavior is remembered. The behavior may be noticed, but is it not always remembered which obviously prevents imitation. It is important therefore that a memory of the behavior is formed to be performed later by the observer. Much of social learning is not immediate so this process is especially vital in those cases. Even if the behavior is reproduced shortly after seeing it, there needs to be a memory to refer to.
- Reproduction: This is the ability to perform the behavior that the model has just demonstrated. We see much behavior on a daily basis that we would like to be able to imitate but that this not always possible. We are limited by our physical ability and for that reason, even if we wish to reproduce the behavior, we cannot. This influences our decisions whether to try and imitate it or not. Imagine the scenario of a 90-year-old-lady who struggles to walk watching Dancing on Ice. She may appreciate that the skill is a desirable one, but she will not attempt to imitate it because she physically cannot do it.
- Motivation: The will to perform the behavior. The rewards and punishment that follow a behavior will be considered by the observer. If the perceived rewards outweighs the perceived costs (if there are any) then the behavior will be more likely to be imitated by the observer. If the vicarious reinforcement is not seen to be important enough to the observer then they will not imitate the behavior.
Once the maladaptive thoughts are discovered in a person’s habitual, automatic thinking, it becomes possible to modify them by substituting rational, realistic ideas for the distorted ones to create a happier and healthier life without fear, anxiety or substance abuse.
Let us understand that substance abuse begins in exactly this manner for the purpose of relief from the stressors.
The approach developed by Beck and colleagues to achieve the goal of a substance-free life is referred to as cognitive therapy (Beck et al., 1993; Beck and Liese, 1998), while Ellis’ approach is known as rational-emotive therapy (Ellis et al., 1988). Generally, the therapist takes a more active role in cognitive therapy than in other types of therapy, depending on the stage of treatment, severity of the substance abuse, and degree of the client’s cognitive capability.
While Ellis and Beck have similar views about the prominent role that cognitions play in the development and maintenance of substance abuse disorders, their theories differ in considering how the therapist should treat irrational or maladaptive cognitions. Rational-emotive therapy is often more challenging and confrontative, with the therapist informing the client of the irrationality of certain types of beliefs that all people are prone to.
Beck, on the other hand, believes that the cognitive therapist, using a supportive Socratic method, should enlist the client in carefully examining the accuracy of her beliefs. Thus, Beck places more importance on the client’s own discovery of faulty and unproductive thinking, while Ellis believes that the client should simply be told that these exist and what they are.
Nevertheless, there is substantial overlap in both the theory and practice of these two therapies. Clearly, different clients will have different responses to these qualitatively different approaches to modifying their thoughts and beliefs.
Therapeutic work in cognitive therapy is devoted primarily, although not exclusively, to addressing specific problems or issues in the client’s present life, rather than global themes or long-standing issues. At times, however, it is important to understand the connection between the origins of a set of cognitions and the client’s current behavior. Such an understanding of how the individual got to the present emotional and behavioral state is often essential to understanding the mechanism of change.
The client’s attention to current problems is intended to promote her development of a plan of action that can reverse dysfunctional thought processes, emotions, and behavior–such as avoidance of problems or feelings of helplessness. Clients are enlisted as coinvestigators or scientists who study their own thought patterns and associated consequences.
Cognitive therapy can be useful in the treatment of substance abuse disorders in several ways. When distorted or unproductive ways of thinking about daily life events lead to negative emotional states that then promote substance use, cognitive therapy can be used to alter the sequence by targeting and modifying the client’s thoughts.
When clients limit their options for coping with stress by rigid or all-or-nothing thinking (e.g., “nothing will help me deal with this problem but a drink”), cognitive therapy can help them explore alternative behaviors and attitudes that do not involve the use of substances. In addition, cognitive therapy can help the client develop healthier ways of viewing both his history of substance abuse and the meaning of a recent “slip” or relapse so that it does not inevitably lead to more substance abuse.
Emotional states such as anxiety, stress, arousal, and mood states also provide information about efficacy beliefs.
People can gauge their degree of confidence by the emotional state they experience as they contemplate an action. Strong emotional reactions to a task provide cues about the anticipated success or failure of the outcome. When they experience negative thoughts and fears about their capabilities, those affective reactions can themselves lower self-efficacy perceptions and trigger additional stress and agitation that help ensure the inadequate performance they fear.
Of course, judgments of self-efficacy from somatic and emotional states are not necessarily linked to task cues. Individuals in a depressed mood lower their efficacy independent of task cues. One way to raise self-efficacy beliefs is to improve physical and emotional well-being and reduce negative emotional states.
Because individuals have the capability to alter their own thinking and feeling, enhanced self-efficacy beliefs can, in turn, powerfully influence the physiological states themselves. As Bandura (1997) has observed, people live in psychic environments that are primarily of their own making.
The sources of self-efficacy information are not directly translated into judgments of competence. Individuals interpret the results of events, and these interpretations provide the information on which judgments are based. The types of information people attend to and use to make efficacy judgments, and the rules they employ for weighting and integrating them, form the basis for such interpretations. Thus, the selection, integration, interpretation, and recollection of information influence judgments of self-efficacy.
Several bodies of psychological theorem explain how an individual’s mental state greatly affects performance. Essays and established theory from highly respected world-renowned psychotherapists such as Albert Bandura, Albert Ellis, many others shed light on the psychology of this situation. The ability to change is apparent after putting the pieces of psychological beliefs at the core of the problem to work for us!
In 1963, Bandura and Walters wrote Social Learning and Personality Development, broadening the frontiers of social learning theory with the now familiar principles of observational learning and vicarious reinforcement. By the 1970’s, however, Bandura was becoming aware that a key element was missing not only from the prevalent learning theories of the day but also from his own social learning theory.
In 1977, with the publication of “Self-efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change,” he identified the important piece of that missing element—self-beliefs. The reciprocal nature of the determinants of human functioning in social cognitive theory makes it possible for therapeutic and counseling efforts to be directed at personal, environmental, or behavioral factors.
Strategies for increasing well-being can be aimed at improving emotional, cognitive, or motivational processes, increasing behavioral competencies, or altering the social conditions under which people live and work. In school, for example, teachers have the challenge of improving the academic learning and confidence of the students in their charge. Using social cognitive theory as a framework, teachers can work to improve their students’ emotional states and to correct their faulty self-beliefs and habits of thinking (personal factors), improve their academic skills and self-regulatory practices (behavior), and alter the school and classroom structures that may work to undermine student success (environmental factors).
Bandura’s social cognitive theory stands in clear contrast to theories of human functioning that overemphasize the role that environmental factors play in the development of human behavior and learning.
Behaviorist theories, for example, show scant interest in self-processes because theorists assume that human functioning is caused by external stimuli. Because inner processes are viewed as transmitting rather than causing behavior, they are dismissed as a redundant factor in the cause and effect process of behavior and unworthy of psychological inquiry. For Bandura, a psychology without introspection cannot aspire to explain the complexities of human functioning.
People make sense of their own psychological processes by looking into their own conscious mind. To predict how human behavior is influenced by environmental outcomes, it is critical to understand how the individual cognitively processes and interprets those outcomes.
More than a century ago, William James (1890/1981) argued that “introspective observation is what we have to rely on first and foremost and always” (p. 185). For Bandura (1986), “a theory that denies that thoughts can regulate actions does not lend itself readily to the explanation of complex human behavior”.
Social Cognitive Theory is rooted in a view of human agency in which individuals are agents proactively engaged in their own development and can make things happen by their actions. Key to this sense of agency is the fact that, among other personal factors, individuals possess self-beliefs that enable them to exercise a measure of control over their thoughts, feelings, and actions, that “what people think, believe, and feel affects how they behave” (Bandura, 1986, p. 25).
Bandura provided a view of human behavior in which the beliefs that people have about themselves are critical elements in the exercise of control and personal agency. Thus, individuals are viewed both as products and as producers of their own environments and of their social systems.
Because human lives are not lived in isolation, Bandura expanded the conception of human agency to include collective agency. People work together on shared beliefs about their capabilities and common aspirations to better their lives.
Schunk, D. H., & Pajares, F. (2002). http://www.emory.edu/EDUCATION/mfp/eff.html
Bandura. A. (1982). Self-efficacy Mechanism in Human Agency. American Psychologist, 37, 122-147.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The Exercise of Control. New York: Freeman.
Pajares, F. (1996). Self-efficacy Beliefs in Academic Settings. Review of Educational Research, 66, 543-578.
Information on Albert Bandura can be accessed directly from his web site at Stanford University at
RATIONAL EMOTIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY, (REBT) represents a model of change that has undergone more and more extensive empirical investigation during the recent years.
According to this model, psychopathology, the study of the causes and development of psychiatric disorders, is a result of a person possessing irrational beliefs that sabotage their purpose and goal. It is widely accepted that at the core of each human disturbance endures the tendency of making devout, absolutistic evaluations of perceived events that come in the form of dogmatic “musts” or “shoulds”.
The byproducts of these “musts” or “shoulds” are failure intolerance, awfulizing, and self-downing. Awfulizing means, an event appraises as worse than 100% awful. This means the person believes that zero happiness exists if the unwanted ending actually occurs. Self-downing refers to the tendency of labeling oneself, others or existence as being “worthless” or “bad” if failure occurs (Ellis & Dryden, 1997)
Traits of well being
- A person’s ability to recover and or prosper after some consequential life event such as any traumatic event like loss, accident or catastrophe causing the individual to confront or cope with a situation that can leave emotional scars. Resilient people cope with or even improve mental health in the process of doing so.
Cognitive theory was developed by A.T. Beck as a way of understanding and treating depression but has since been applied to numerous other mental health issues including substance abuse disorders. Beck believed that depressed clients held negative views of themselves, the world, and their future, and that these negative views were the real causes of their depression. He found that their psychological difficulties were due to automatic thoughts, dysfunctional assumptions, and negative self-statements. Automatic thoughts often precede emotions but occur quite rapidly with little awareness; consequently, individuals do not value them highly.
For example, depressed people address themselves in highly critical tones, blaming themselves for everything that happens.
Figure 4-8 is a list of 15 common cognitive errors found in the thinking processes of individuals with emotional and behavioral problems, including substance abuse disorders. An overview of the nature and content of distorted thinking more specifically associated with substance abuse is provided in Figure 4-9 (Ellis et al., 1988).
These thoughts are presumably automatic, overlearned, rigid and inflexible, overgeneralized and illogical, dichotomous, and not based on fact.
They also tend to reflect reliance on substances as a means of coping with boredom and negative emotions, a negative view of the self as a person with a substance abuse problem, and a tendency to facilitate continued substance use.
- Filtering–taking negative details and magnifying them, while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation
- Polarized thinking–thinking of things as black or white, good or bad, perfect or failures, with no middle ground
- Overgeneralization–jumping to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence; expecting something bad to happen over and over again if one bad thing occurs
- Mind reading–thinking that you know, without any external proof, what people are feeling and why they act the way they do; believing yourself able to discern how people are feeling about you
- Catastrophizing–expecting disaster; hearing about a problem and then automatically considering the possible negative consequences (e.g., “What if tragedy strikes?” “What if it happens to me?”)
- Personalization–thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you; comparing yourself to others, trying to determine who’s smarter or better looking
- Control fallacies–feeling externally controlled as helpless or a victim of fate or feeling internally controlled, responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around
- Fallacy of fairness–feeling resentful because you think you know what is fair, even though other people do not agree
- Blaming–holding other people responsible for your pain or blaming yourself for every problem
- Shoulds–having a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people “should” act; becoming angry at people who break the rules and feeling guilty if you violate the rules
- Emotional reasoning–believing that what you feel must be true, automatically (e.g., if you feel stupid and boring, then you must be stupid and boring)
- Fallacy of Change–expecting that other people will change to suit you if you pressure them enough; having to change people because your hopes for happiness seem to depend on them
- Global labeling–generalizing one or two qualities into a negative global judgment
- Being right–proving that your opinions and actions are correct on a continual basis; thinking that being wrong is unthinkable; going to any lengths to prove that you are correct
- Heaven’s reward fallacy–expecting all sacrifice and self-denial to pay off as if there were someone keeping score, and feeling disappointed and even bitter when the reward does not come
Source: Beck, 1976.
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment CSAT. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Perceived self-efficacy is defined as people’s beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives. Self- efficacy beliefs determine how people feel, think, motivate themselves and behave. Such beliefs produce these diverse effects through four major processes. They include cognitive, motivational, affective and selection processes.
A strong sense of efficacy enhances human accomplishment and personal well-being in many ways. People with high assurance in their capabilities approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided. Such an efficacious outlook fosters intrinsic interest and deep engrossment in activities. They set themselves challenging goals and maintain strong commitment to them. They heighten and sustain their efforts in the face of failure. They quickly recover their sense of efficacy after failures or setbacks. They attribute failure to insufficient effort or deficient knowledge and skills, which are acquirable.
They approach threatening situations with assurance that they can exercise control over them. Such an efficacious outlook produces personal accomplishments, reduces stress and lowers vulnerability to depression.
In contrast, people who doubt their capabilities shy away from difficult tasks which they view as personal threats. They have low aspirations and weak commitment to the goals they choose to pursue. When faced with difficult tasks, they dwell on their personal deficiencies, on the obstacles they will encounter, and all kinds of adverse outcomes rather than concentrate on how to perform successfully. They slacken their efforts and give up quickly in the face of difficulties. They are slow to recover their sense of efficacy following failure or setbacks. Because they view insufficient performance as deficient aptitude it does not require much failure for them to lose faith in their capabilities. They fall easy victim to stress and depression.
Teaching Stress Management
The client learns methods that will help her reduce stress, including relaxation techniques, systematic desensitization, planning in advance for a potentially stressful event, and cognitive strategies. These techniques can help in resisting the temptation to abuse substances in otherwise stressful situations.
Writing therapy is a technique that may be particularly useful for clients who have difficulty talking about their thoughts and feelings. While it does not seem that all clients with substance abuse disorders face increased stress (Cappell, 1987), for those who do, stress management techniques (such as those described by Stockwell, 1995) can prove useful.
A principal of classical conditioning is that if a behavior occurs repeatedly across time but is not reinforced, the strength of both the cue for the behavior and the behavior itself will diminish and the behavior will extinguish. This principle has been the foundation of behavioral treatments known as “cue exposure” (O’Brien et al., 1990; Rohsenow et al., 1991; Rohsenow and Monti, 1995).