Anxiety Regarding Life Death Contingencies Extreme Situation and Students Academic Performance in Social Science

Anxiety Regarding Life Death Contingencies Extreme Situation and Students Academic Performance in Social Science
Anxiety Regarding Life Death Contingencies Extreme Situation and Students Academic Performance in Social Science

Anxiety Regarding Life Death Contingencies Extreme Situation and Students Academic Performance in Social Science



Anxiety disorders cause people to feel frightened, distressed, or uneasy during situations in which most people would not feel that way. Left untreated, anxiety disorders can make it hard for students to get schoolwork done or study. It may affect their relationships with peers and teachers, too. In some cases, students with anxiety disorders miss a lot of school days. Or they may avoid school altogether. Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear that can be mild, moderate or severe. Everyone has feeling of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting for an exam or a job interview.

Feeling anxious is sometimes perfectly normal however; people with severe form of anxiety find it had to control their worries. Their feeling of anxiety is more constant and often affects their performance or daily life. Anxiety disorder is a common cause of poor academic outcome among students at every level of learning. Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by cognitive, somatic, emotional and behavioral components caused by a person’s anticipation that something is potentially threatening to him, whether physically or psychologically.

Concept of Anxiety

In contrast to fear, anxiety involves a more general or diffused emotional reaction – beyond simple fear – that is out of proportion to threats from the environment. Anxiety is defined by and as ‘a complex psychological and behavioural state.’ opined that anxiety, an emotional state of a human during life is both life – saving and also causes many problems in the mental life of human beings. Humans have to always express inner struggles with different words, moods, feelings and emotions. Therefore in terms of the internal struggles, man uses expressions such as anxiety or worry. Anxiety is the most important factor of mental disorders based on the theory of psychological analysis. Freud called anxiety ’emotional pain.

This means the same as if the body suffered from injury, inflammation and disease. Anxiety according to is the price paid for civilization maintained that students’ stress is an unavoidable phenomenon which is often seen in the undergraduates and postgraduates identified such factors as physical, mental, family, job and social relationship as contributing to stress in these students which they noted can affect their academic performances negatively. Anxiety surrounding examination and other specific situations affects approximately 25% to 40% of individuals with more females than males being affected. Anxiety interferes with school functioning only when an abnormal level is reached, where as within normal range, being anxious does not automatically imply worst school functioning and indeed may to a certain extent be motivating and enhancing to academic performance, ranked anxiety into four levels: mild, moderate, severe and panic anxiety.

Academic Performance of Students

Academic performance is a term used to describe the rating of a student following an examination. This is an important aspect of a student’s life and is known to be influenced by various factors including anxiety and level of hard work/preparations done prior to the examination opined that academic performance is measured by the standing rates of grades of students in every subject and students have their own attitude towards learning and achieving a high level of academic performance. In order for a student to succeed he needs to be armed with strategies and techniques that will supplement his desire to reach his goals.

One way is to have an efficient and adaptive study habit free of anxiety stated that academic performance of nursing students can be determined by various academic and non-academic factors that include measures of previous academic performance such as college and high school grade point (GPA), scores of different aptitude tests, and certain demographic characteristics such as age, gender, marital status, ethnicity, residential background and previous work experience. Furthermore, knowledge about predictors of academic performance help in developing strategies to facilitate students’ success in nursing education programmes and ensuring adequate training and provision of man power in the nursing profession.



If a student experiences an increased level of anxiety, the anxiety may have a negative effect, resulting in decreased learning. These extreme levels of academic related anxiety may cause some of them to even leave the programme.

If nurse educators can better understand the anxiety levels of students of nursing department, they will be able to develop curricular and educational interventions to minimize the anxiety levels of students.

Anxiety has a negative and detrimental effect on academic performance. Depending on the type of anxiety you have, it can affect your school work in different ways. The following explains how the different types of anxiety disorders can negatively impact your academic performance.

Anxiety and depression negatively influence academic progress and encourage under-achievement. Students with a high level of anxiety score lower on IQ and achievement tests than their peers.

All students are entitled to an education in a positive environment. Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is part of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) that assures students with disabilities receive an appropriate and individualized education (U.S. Department of Education, 2004). FAPE also assures that students with disabilities participate in the general education classroom. Students with and without disabilities can suffer from anxiety when faced with certain academic tasks. It is important for teachers to be aware of the signs of anxiety, and what can be done to ease students’ anxiety.


Excessive worry, focused on multiple everyday events, is a basic cognitive characteristic of generalized anxiety disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013; Grol, et al., 2018. The other basic characteristic of anxiety is emotionality which denotes increased physiological arousal and symptoms as well as affective reactions (Bonaccio, Reeve, & Winford, 2012; Brodish & Devine, 2009).Worryrefers to a string of repetitive negatively affect-laden images and thoughts that are difficult to control (Thompson, Webber, & Montgomery, 2002; Barahmand, 2008).Worry represents an effort to engage in mental problem solving of a problem whose consequences are vague or uncertain (Grol, et al., 2018).It usually involves conscious expectation of possible negative outcomes or fear of failure (Williams, 1996; Barahmand, 2008). Wells identified two types of worry; type 1 and type 2 (Wells, 2010; Bahrami&Yousefi, 2010).

Type 1 worry refers to concern or worry about physical health and social worry and it is related to positive metacognitive beliefs. The concern in worry may be related to performance in academic or other settings (Rana & Mahmood, 2010). This type of worry is not enough to result in generalized anxiety disorder. Type 1 is a type of coping efforts related to constructive metacognitive beliefs such as ’If I worry about harm in the future I’ll be able to avoid it’ (Well, 2010, p. 134). Type 2 worry is known as meta-worry which refers to worry about worry. This type of worry is represented by negative interpretation or appraisal of worry (Bahrami&Yousefi, 2010). These negative appraisals weaken the individual’s sense of security that was previously provided by constructive beliefs about worry, thus, may result in anxiety. An example of negative metacognitions is “Worrying will make me lose my mind”.

A part from being a disorder, anxiety is an integral element of motivation and is important for appropriate regulation and planning of behavior (Luu, Tucker, &Derryberry, 1998). About 25-30% of college and high school students are affected by anxiety related to academic performance and other academic worries (Wolitzky-Taylor &Telch, 2010).Anxiety significantly influences both learning and academic achievement.

It leads students to display negative attitudes toward their studies reflected in poor academic performance, bad assignments, lack of interest in learning, decreased ability to reason, poor working memory and increased distraction (Vitasari, Abdul-Wahab, Othman, Herawan & Sinnadurai, 2010). However, anxiety is believed to have both positive and negative impacts on academic performance (Vitasari, et al., 2010). The bulk of research has shown that academic performance decreases as anxiety rises (Mihailescu, Diaconescu, Donisan, & Ciobanu, 2016). For example, Dawood, Al Ghadeer, Mitsu, Almutary, and Alenezi (2016) found that anxiety was associated with poor academic performance in undergraduate nursing students. Likewise, Weda and Sakti (2018) reported that heightened study anxiety was associated with decreased academic performance among engineering students.

However, moderate level of anxiety is beneficial and of motivational power. If there is no anxiety many individuals will not be motivated to perform or to act. Hence, moderate level of anxiety is crucial to inspire students to prepare for exams and obtain high grades. However, elevated anxiety may limit concentration and negatively affects recall of information (Shakir, 2014).


It is difficult to imagine people succeeding in an area of their lives—whether in academics, sports, or social relationships—if they are indifferent to how well they do in that area. When people feel good after success and feel bad after failure in a domain then they will surely try hard to succeed and avoid failure (Osborne & Jones, 2011). Is it possible, however, for people to care so much about their domain successes and failures that they feel overwhelming pressure and their performance suffers? Such underperformance may be likely when people tie their self-worth to success and failure in a domain (Burhans & Dweck, 1995; Covington, 1984; Crocker, Brook, Niiya, & Villacorta, 2006; Deci & Ryan, 1995), especially when they perform difficult tasks in evaluative settings (Lawrence & Crocker, 2009).

The present research examines why people with domain-contingent self-worth are vulnerable to underperforming in these settings. As the label implies, when people have domain-contingent selfworth, their self-worth rises after successes and drops after failures and setbacks (Crocker, Sommers, & Luhtanen, 2002). Their selfworth is especially likely to drop when they perform below their expectations (Crocker, Karpinski, Quinn, & Chase, 2003), or after they perform poorly when they either have low self-esteem (Park, Crocker, & Kiefer, 2007) or believe intelligence is fixed (Niiya, Crocker, & Bartmess, 2004).

Given that self-worth boosts feel good and self-worth drops feel bad, it is reasonable to assume that domain-contingent self-worth increases people’s motivation and therefore their performance (Major & Schmader, 1998; Osborne, 1995, 1997; Osborne & Jones, 2011; Steele, 1997). Indeed, the more people base their self-worth on a given domain the more they devote time and effort to that domain (Crocker, Luhtanen, Cooper, & Bouvrette, 2003; also see Crocker et al., 2006). Despite this motivation, when faced with difficulty or failure, people with domain-contingent self-worth risk impaired motivation and performance (Burhans & Dweck, 1995; Covington, 1984; Crocker et al., 2006; Deci & Ryan, 1995). The reason, according to several theorists, is that people with domain-contingent selfworth seek to validate their abilities and traits (Burhans & Dweck, 1995; Crocker et al., 2006). These self-validation goals, in turn, can impair people’s motivation and performance on difficult tasks due to processes such as anxiety, shame, effort withdrawal, and low ability attributions (Elliott & Dweck, 1988; Grant & Dweck, 2003).


Social anxiety is very distinct from natural anxiety. Considering the effects of social anxiety in a college setting, there are students whose grades can decrease due to non-performance in specific class activities or unfortunately discontinuing school.

Social anxiety amongst college students continues to increase, causing difficulty with social skills as well as academic performance. It can be defined as extreme distress and/or avoidance of situations in which the individual fears criticism or embarrassment (Strahan, 2003). Undergraduate and graduate students are unaware that social anxiety is significantly high in the college population. There are some differences in cognitions and physiological responses between nonclinical participants with more social anxiety symptoms than those students who are diagnosed with social phobia (anxiety) (Strahan, 2003).

Studying the effects of academic performance due to high levels of social anxiety can cause consequences on both a micro and macro level. At a micro level, one common problem amongst college students who experience social anxiety is that they invest in heavy substance use consumption (Villarosa et al., 2014). These findings can help discover preventative strategies to help assist those students who feel a sense of security when consuming alcohol or relying on another substance such as cannabis. Another impactful strategy that can be helpful on a micro level is discovering how students have generally dealt with their social anxiety and what methods have helped them cope with their specific symptoms. Solutions to issues should not only be surface level since circumstances can be unique and the answers are not catered to fit each individual’s needs. This study will further assess what college students individually need to thrive in their environment and what can help them alleviate social anxiety in their everyday activities of living to enhance their quality of life.

  1. Mild level of anxiety is healthy, at this level, perceptual field is heighten, pupils dilate to accommodate much light, hearing and smelling intensified, and sense of touch is highly sensitive. The individual is highly alert and attentive and learning and cognition is in its best state. This stage improves academic performance.
  2. Moderate level of anxiety on the other hand is unhealthy, the perceptional field of a person at this level is narrowed; individuals experiencing this level of anxiety have selective inattention. They have decreased focus and automatism can be observed as repetitive purposeless movements such as shaking of the hands and feet, twirling of hair and, tapping of fingers. Academic performance at this level depends on the individual’s ability to control the anxiety and carry out the assigned task.
  3. Severe level of anxiety is characterized by reduced perceptual field and a difficulty in communication. Gross motor movements, such as pacing are characteristic of people at this stage. Academic performance at this stage depends on the educator’s ability to recognize such individuals and provide a safe environment for them. Communication should be kept short and simple since communication is altered. Performance at this stage is reduced since most educators may not be able to provide such environment for the student.
  4. Panic level of anxiety is the worst and most severe form of anxiety. Total disruption of perceptual field is present. It is also characterized by loss of ability to communicate, loss of rational thought and total loss of conscious thinking. Academic performance at this level is very poor since the student will be unable to remember exactly what he/she is supposed to do.


Anxiety symptoms are extremely common in childhood and adolescence and can negatively interfere with general well –being, social life, academic performance and development of social skills. The effect of anxiety on academic performance as revealed is not always obvious and new research funded suggests that there may be hidden costs. The research found that anxious individuals find it harder to avoid distractions and take more time to turn their attention from one task to the next than their less anxious peers. They further stated that a lot of the negative effects of anxiety appear to be caused by difficulties with controlling attention. This suggests that training techniques designed to enhance attention; control the ability of students to ignore distractions and prevent the switching of their attention from one task to another could help anxious students to achieve their academic potential.

Anxious individuals often perform at a comparable level to non-anxious ones but only do so at a greater cost in terms of effort or perhaps long term stress. This implies that it is important that teachers focus not only on whether a student’s academic performance seems to be satisfactory but also on how much effort the student had to put in to achieve that level of success. Anxious students may be trying desperately hard just to keep pace with academic demands and this could be at great psychological cost.

Anxiety symptoms are extremely common in childhood and adolescence and can negatively interfere with general well –being, social life, academic performance and development of social skills. Anxiety symptoms are associated with impairment of memory and cognitive functions and can contribute to poor school performance and academic failure.        



American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition, Washington DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000

Barlow H, Clinical Hand Book of Psychological Disorders 4th Edition, Guildford Press, Boston University, 2001

Bembenutty H, Test Anxiety and Academic Delay of Gratification.,Verleg Publishing House, Germany, 2009

Katja B, Knappe S, Dipl P, Daniel S, Psychiatric Clin. North Am, 2009, 483-524, 32

Mazzone L, Ducci F, Scoto C, Passaniti E, D’Arrigo G, Vitiello B, The Role of Anxiety Symptoms in School Performance in a Community Sample of Children and Adolescents (online), obtained from, Catania Sicily Italy, 2007.

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