Background. An interplay of emotional and cognitive aspects underlies academic performance. We focused on the contribution of such interplay to text comprehension. Aims. We investigated the effect of worry on comprehension and the role of two potential moderators of this effect: physiological self-regulation as resting heart rate variability (HRV) and working memory updating. Sample. Eighty-two seventh graders were involved in a quasi-experimental design. Methods. Students read an informational text in one of two reading conditions: to read for themselves to know more (n = 46; low-worry condition) or to gain the highest score in a ranking (n = 36; high-worry condition). Students’ resting HRV was recorded while watching a video of a natural scenario. The executive function of working memory updating was also assessed. After reading, students completed a comprehension task. Results. Findings revealed the moderating role of HRV in the relationship between induced worry and text comprehension. In the high-worry condition, students with higher resting HRV performed better than students who read under the same instructions but had lower HRV. In contrast, in the low-worry condition, students with higher resting HRV showed a lower performance as compared to students with lower HRV. Finally, working memory updating was positively related to text comprehension. Conclusions. Our findings indicate that the cognitive component of anxiety, that is, worry, plays a role in performing a fundamental learning activity like text comprehension. The importance of physiological self-regulation emerges clearly. In a condition of high worry, higher ability to regulate emotions and thoughts acts as a protective factor.

Reading with induced worry: The role of physiological self‐regulation and working memory updating in text comprehension

Raccanello, Daniela;Burro, Roberto;
2022

Abstract

Background. An interplay of emotional and cognitive aspects underlies academic performance. We focused on the contribution of such interplay to text comprehension. Aims. We investigated the effect of worry on comprehension and the role of two potential moderators of this effect: physiological self-regulation as resting heart rate variability (HRV) and working memory updating. Sample. Eighty-two seventh graders were involved in a quasi-experimental design. Methods. Students read an informational text in one of two reading conditions: to read for themselves to know more (n = 46; low-worry condition) or to gain the highest score in a ranking (n = 36; high-worry condition). Students’ resting HRV was recorded while watching a video of a natural scenario. The executive function of working memory updating was also assessed. After reading, students completed a comprehension task. Results. Findings revealed the moderating role of HRV in the relationship between induced worry and text comprehension. In the high-worry condition, students with higher resting HRV performed better than students who read under the same instructions but had lower HRV. In contrast, in the low-worry condition, students with higher resting HRV showed a lower performance as compared to students with lower HRV. Finally, working memory updating was positively related to text comprehension. Conclusions. Our findings indicate that the cognitive component of anxiety, that is, worry, plays a role in performing a fundamental learning activity like text comprehension. The importance of physiological self-regulation emerges clearly. In a condition of high worry, higher ability to regulate emotions and thoughts acts as a protective factor.
reading, worry, self-regulation, working memory, text comprehension
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/1058917
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