Response expectancies and irrational beliefs predict exam-related distress

Guy H. Montgomery, Daniel David, Terry A. Dilorenzo, Julie B. Schnur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Individual differences in cognitive factors such as response expectancies and irrational beliefs (IBs) have been shown to contribute to variability in distress associated with stressful situations. However, their independent influence on distress when examined within the same study has not been established, nor has the potential of mediational relationships. The purpose of this study was to investigate the contribution of response expectancies and IBs (both general and exam-specific) to exam-related distress in a prospective study. Results revealed that both response expectancies and general IBs separately predicted exam-related distress (p's<.05; N=105). Observed effects of general IBs were perfectly mediated by, and observed effects of exam-specific IBs were partially mediated by, response expectancies using the Baron and Kenny approach. These data support the view that cognitive factors contribute to psychological distress and are consistent with response expectancy and rational emotive behavior theories. The results suggest that interventions focused on response expectancies and IBs might be an effective means to reduce psychological distress associated with real life stressors such as exams. Future research is needed to determine whether this effect generalizes to other stressful situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-34
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Rational - Emotive and Cognitive - Behavior Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Distress
  • Irrational beliefs
  • Response expectancy


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