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March 12, 2010

Exposure to Letters A or F before tests affects performance

grade%20A.jpegSeeing the letter A before an exam can improve a student's exam result while exposure to the letter F may make a student more likely to fail. This finding is published in the British Journal of Educational Psychology in March 2010.

The study, carried out by Dr Keith Ciani and Dr Ken Sheldon at the University of Missouri, USA, investigated whether exposing students to the letters A or F before a test affected how they performed, and a significant correlation was found. Dr Keith Ciani said: "These findings suggest that exposure to letters A and F, even without any explicit reference to success or failure, significantly affected the students' performance on the tests .... We believe that the meanings inherent in the evaluative letters were enough to influence their performance through the motivational state that they produced. Exposure to the letter A made the students non-consciously approach the task with the aim to succeed, while exposure to letter F made the students non-consciously want to avoid failure. Research suggests that when people approach tasks with the desire to succeed they perform better than when striving to avoid failure.'

Click here for the research paper.

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