Will Anxiety Boost Motivation? The Relationship between Anxiety and Motivation in Foreign Language Learning

Zhanni Luo, Ganakumaran Subramaniam, Billy O'Steen


While anxiety is widely regarded as a type of negative emotion, it has been noticed that certain types of people could be more motivated when they face certain degrees of anxiety. However, previous studies have not provided definitive results on anxiety’s correlation with motivation in foreign language learning contexts. We aim to investigate the relationship between anxiety and motivation in order to explore the possibility of using anxiety to boost motivation in foreign language contexts. This study adopted the Achievement Anxiety Test (AAT) and the Academic Motivation Scale (AMS), which led to the analysis of data collected from 173 Chinese participants using the Pearson Correlation Method. The findings reveal that facilitating anxiety is significantly and positively correlated with both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, as well as amotivation (the status of not intrinsically or extrinsically motivated). In addition, debilitating anxiety is also significantly correlated with extrinsic motivation and amotivation. The findings provide theoretical support for the possibility of using anxiety to boost motivation in foreign language learning contexts. Future studies could use the findings to explore the causes of facilitating anxiety, the contributory factor of motivation and then draw a connection between anxiety and motivation for enhanced foreign language learning outcomes.


Anxiety, Motivation, Correlation, English Learning

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