Emotion dynamics of clients with test anxiety before and after an imagery-based treatment

Jessica Uhl, Steffen Eberhardt, Brian Schwartz, Eshkol Rafaeli, Wolfgang Lutz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and objectives: Imagery-based techniques have become a promising means in the treatment of test anxiety (TA). Although previous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of imagery-based treatment, not all clients seem to benefit from it. The present study compares clients' pre- as well as post-treatment emotion dynamics between responders and non-responders. Furthermore, it examines treatment-related changes in emotion dynamics in both subgroups. Methods: The results are based on 44 clients suffering from TA who underwent a six-session imagery-based treatment and include Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA). Emotions were assessed with the Profile of Mood States four times a day over the course of two weeks before and after the treatment. Temporal networks were computed to index emotion dynamics. Results: Pre-treatment emotion dynamics differed between responders and non-responders. Similarly, post-treatment emotion dynamics differed as well between both groups. Some changes were also observed between pre-treatment and post-treatment networks: for responders, fatigue no longer predicted anger, and depression predicted itself; for non-responders, calmness predicted fatigue, anger, depression, contentment, and anxiety. In addition, fatigue no longer predicted itself and anxiety predicted vigor. Limitations: The investigation is marked by several limitations: a liberal inclusion threshold of at least a 50% response to EMA prompts, and a relatively homogenous sample. Conclusion: These results provide first evidence for the idea that emotion dynamics may be associated with response to treatment for TA. Furthermore, effective imagery-based treatments may be tied to changes within these dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101909
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Early online date3 Sep 2023
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Emotion
  • Imagery rescripting
  • Network analysis
  • Test anxiety


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