The impact of anxiety on analogical reasoning

Thinking and Reasoning 6 (1):27 – 40 (2000)
Abstract
The effect of state anxiety on analogical reasoning was investigated by examining qualitative differences in mapping performance between anxious and non-anxious individuals reasoning about pictorial analogies. The working-memory restriction theory of anxiety, coupled with theories of analogy that link complexity of mapping with working-memory capacity, predicts that high anxiety will impair the ability to find correspondences based on relations between multiple objects relative to correspondences based on overlap of attributes between individual objects. Anxiety was induced in one condition by a stressful speeded subtraction task administered prior to the analogy task. Anxious participants produced fewer relational responses and more attribute responses than did non-anxious participants, both in the absence of explicit instructions to find relational mappings (Experiment 1) and after receiving such instructions (Experiment 2). The findings support the postulated links among anxiety, working memory, and the ability to perform complex analogical mapping.
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