UBC Theses and Dissertations
The effect of anxiety on real life problem solving performance of gifted children in Israel Zoller, Tamar
The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of anxiety on real life problem solving performance of gifted children. The study was carried out in Israel, a country in which the necessity of solving real life problems under conditions of anxiety is a real concern. 142 gifted and nongifted subjects from 4th, 5th and 6th grades participated in the study. Trait and State Anxiety Inventories for Children (Spielberger, 1973), and a Real Life Problem Solving Situation Set (RLPSSS), were used to assess the subjects' Trait anxiety, State anxiety and real life problem solving performance respectively. The subjects in each class were divided into two matched groups based on their Trait Anxiety scores, the subjects gender and their scholastic achievements. One of them was randomly assigned to be the treatment group and the other the nontreatment group. The "treatment" consisted of deliberate induction of anxiety via a combination of elements that are known to elicit anxiety in school children. Matched t-tests on anxiety scores, before and after treatment, indicated that the treatment was effective in both populations, the gifted and the nongifted. Ethical issues were taken into consideration. Analysis of RLPSSS indicated that: (1) gifted children performed significantly better than their nongifted counterparts under conditions of treatment as well as under condition of non-treatment; (2) the performance of all the groups who experienced anxiety, was lower than that of their matched groups who performed under their natural setting conditions; (3) no interaction was found between giftedness and anxiety; (4) under conditions of anxiety gifted girls appeared to perform slightly better than gifted boys. The implications from this study concern the attitude toward anxiety which should be dealt with as part of life, rather than as a pathological feature. It is suggested to consider the introduction of anxiety scales into test batteries used for the identification of gifted children and that special programs for the gifted make provisions for providing the gifted students with the necessary skills to cope with life problems under all kinds of anxiety circumstances.