The effects of biofeedback and meditation on test anxiety

Test anxiety affects millions of college students across the United States. The current study examines the effects of meditation and biofeedback on test anxiety. Previous research suggests that mediation reduces levels of anxiety and continued use is maintained through negative reinforcement. Additionally, research suggests that biofeedback may increase the likelihood an intervention technique is continued outside of the lab. Participants in the current study were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: a controlled relaxation period, meditation instructions alone, or meditation paired with biofeedback assistance. Meditation instructions were identified based on their focus in diaphragmatic breathing and their open availability to participants. Those in the meditation paired with biofeedback reduced their heart rate during intervention and those in meditation alone during intervention and a post-intervention exam. These results correspond with previous research suggesting meditation is an effective anxiety reduction technique. When paired with biofeedback, the positive effects of meditation were blocked and a reduction in heart rate was not sustained. This suggests that meditation alone may be a better choice when studying anxiety reduction in the future. Unlike previous research, biofeedback did not affect intervention maintenance. In order to evaluate the applications of biofeedback within the field of anxiety, future research is still required.