Relationship between Alternative five-factor personality model traits and test anxiety: moderating role of time-management skills and course overload

  • Jelena Bačić University of Banja Luka, Faculty of Philosophy, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Lana Vujaković University of Banja Luka, Faculty of Philosophy, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Keywords: test anxiety, personality traits, alternative five-factor model, time management skills, course overload


Test anxiety is the uncomfortable state of tension, fear, and physiological symptoms that appear before, during, or after the exam. Earlier studies suggest that personality traits are the best predictors of test anxiety (Jayaraman & Subramanian, 2015), although those used either the Five-Factor Model (Costa & McCrae, 1992) or Eysenck’s PEN model (Eysenck, 1991). This research aimed to investigate the relationship between the Alternative Five-Factor Model (Zuckerman, 1994) and test anxiety, as well as to see if other variables (such as time-management skills and course overload) that have been correlated with test anxiety before would affect the relationship between these two constructs. The sample comprised 264 students (83.4% females) from B&H, Serbia, and Croatia. Although the students from different fields of study could complete the questionnaire online, most of them stated that they attended the Faculty of Philosophy. The research included the following instruments: the ZKA-PQ-SF personality questionnaire (Aluja et al., 2017), the test anxiety questionnaire (Subotić & Marinković, 2018), and two one-item scales that registered time-management skills and course overload. Correlational analysis showed that test anxiety was significantly correlated with neuroticism (r = .61, p < .001) and aggressiveness (r = .26, p < .001), as well as significantly negatively correlated with time-management skills (r = .-24, p < .001) and extraversion (r = .-15, p = .01). Regression analysis showed that the model that consisted of all personality traits explained 39.6% of the variance (R = .62, R2 = .39, p < .001), which is almost the same percentage as the independent contribution of neuroticism (R = .61, R2 = .37, p < .001), but one must mention that some suppression effects were identified when placing all the predictors together in the model. Also, we found that time-management skills and course overload did not statistically significantly moderate the relationship between personality traits and test anxiety. The results suggest that personality traits are good correlates of test anxiety even outside the context of frequently used lexical models and that physiologically based personality models can be an even better tool for explaining test anxiety. Data indicating that time management skills correlated with test anxiety but that the possession of these skills did not change the intensity of the relationship that personality traits (primarily neuroticism) had with this construct are discussed, bearing in mind the importance of physiological and cognitive processes underneath. Having good time-management skills or low course overload did not have effects on test anxiety as much as personality traits did, which can be understandable considering that personality traits are much more stable components that can significantly moderate human behaviour.


Aluja, A., Rossier, J., Garcia, L. F., Angleitner, A., Kuhlman, M., & Zuckerman, M. (2006). A cross-cultural shortened form of the ZKPQ (ZKPQ-50-CC) adapted to English, French, German, and Spanis languages. Personality and Individual Differences, 41, 619–628.

Aluja, A., Kuhlman, M., & Zuckerman, M. (2010). Development of the Zuckerman–Kuhlman–Aluja personality questionnaire (ZKA–PQ): A factor/facet version of the Zuckerman–Kuhlman personality questionnaire (ZKPQ). Journal of personality assessment, 92(5), 416–431.

Aluja, A., Blanch, A., Barr, O., Hansenne, M., García, L. F., Valdivia, M., Wang, W., Ruch, W. l., Rossier, J., Suranyi, Z., Glicksohn, J., Di Blas, L., Ostendorf, F., Atitsogbe, K. A., Čekrlija, Đ., Stivers, A., Benjemaa, S., & Bellaj, T. (2017). The Zuckerman-Kuhlman-Aluja Personality Questionnaire (ZKA-PQ/SF) shortened version across 17 cultures and 11 languages. Poster presented at Conference of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences (24-28.07.2017). Warsaw, Poland.

Asghari, A., Kadir, R. A., Elias, H., & Baba, M. (2012). Test anxiety and its related concepts: A brief review. Education Sciences and Psychology, 3, 3–8.

Asmali, M. (2017). Big five personality traits and test anxiety among English as a foreign language learners. Iğdır Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, 11, 1–21.

Bandalos, D. L., Yates, K., & Thorndike-Christ, T. (1995). Effects of math self-concept, perceived self-efficacy, and attributions for failure and success on test anxiety. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87(4), 611–623.

Behroozi, N., Rafiee, Z., & Haji Yakhchali, A. (2019). Predictors of Exam Cheating Among the High School Students: Role of Personality Characteristics, Sensation-Seeking, Locus of Control and Exam Anxiety. Iranian Evolutionary and Educational Psychology Journal, 1(1), 24–33.

Catell, R. B. (1973). Questionnaire psychometric properties: Test evaluation and improvement. In Personality and mood by questionnaire (pp. 349–390). Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Chamorro-Premuzic, T., Ahmetoglu, G., & Furnham, A. (2008). Little more than personality: Dispositional determinants of test anxiety (the Big Five, core self-evaluations, and self-assessed intelligence). Learning and Individual Differences,18, 258–263.

Cohen, M., Ben-Zur, H., & Rosenfeld, M. J. (2008). Sense of coherence, coping strategies, and test anxiety as predictors of test performance among college students. International Journal of Stress Management, 15(3), 289.

Comeau, N., Stewart, S. H., & Loba, P. (2001). The relations of trait anxiety, anxiety sensitivity, and sensation seeking to adolescents’ motivations for alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use. Addictive behaviors, 26(6), 803–825.

Costa Jr, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Four ways five factors are basic. Personality and individual differences, 13(6), 653–665.

Dal, N. (2018). The Big Five Personality Traits and Narcissism as the Predictors of Anxiety and Confidence before Archery Class Final Exam. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 6(12), 2875–2879.

Durakua, Z. H. (2017). Factors influencing test anxiety among university students. The European Journal of Social and Behavioural Sciences, 18(1), 2–10.

Everson, H. T., Millsap, R. E., & Rodriguez, C. M. (1991). Isolating gender differences in test anxiety: A confirmatory factor analysis of the Test Anxiety Inventory. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 51(1), 243–251.

Eysenck, H. J. (1953). The structure of human personality. Methuen.

Eysenck, H. J. (1991). Dimensions of personality: 16, 5 or 3?—Criteria for a taxonomic paradigm. Personality and individual differences, 12(8), 773–790.

Eysenck, H. J. (1992). Four ways five factors are not basic. Personality and Individual Differences, 13(6), 667–673.

Fernández-Castillo, A. (2013). Sleep time, test anxiety and aggressiveness in university students. Ansiedad y Estrés, 19(1), 71–82.

Fincham, F. D., Hokoda, A., & Sanders Jr, R. (1989). Learned helplessness, test anxiety, and academic achievement: A longitudinal analysis. Child development, 138–145.

Fischer, S., Smith, G. T., Annus, A., & Hendricks, M. (2007). The relationship of neuroticism and urgency to negative consequences of alcohol use in women with bulimic symptoms. Personality and Individual Differences, 43(5), 1199–1209.

Fitch, B. D. (2004). A test of the relationship between personality traits and test anxiety [Doctoral dissertation, Fielding Graduate Institute].

Guraya, S. Y., Guraya, S. S., Habib, F., AlQuiliti, K. W., & Khoshhal, K. I. (2018). Medical students’ perception of test anxiety triggered by different assessment modalities. Medical teacher, 40(1), 49–55.

Hoferichter, F., & Raufelder, D. (2015). Examining the role of social relationships in the association between neuroticism and test anxiety–results from a study with German secondary school students. Educational Psychology, 35(7), 851–868.

Hyseni Duraku, Z., & Hoxha, L. (2018). Self-esteem, study skills, self-concept, social support, psychological distress, and coping mechanism effects on test anxiety and academic performance. Health psychology open, 5(2), 2055102918799963.

Jayaraman, S. K., & Subramanian, K. (2015). Personality and Test Anxiety of School Students. International Journal of Education and Psychological Research, 4(2), 9–13.

Joireman, J. (2004). The Zuckerman-Kuhlman Personality Questionnaire: Origin, development, and validity of a measure to assess an alternative Five-Factor Model of personality. In R. M. Stelmack (Ed.), On the psychobiology of personality: Essays in honor of Marvin Zuckerman (pp. 49–64). Elsevier.

Kondo, D. S. (1997). Strategies for coping with test anxiety. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 10(2), 203–215.

Khosravi, M. & Bigdely, I. (2008). The relationship between personality factors and test anxiety among university students. Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 12(1), 13–24.

Liu, J. T., Meng, X. P., & Xu, Q. Z. (2006). The relationship between test anxiety and personality, self-esteem in grade one senior high students. Chinese Journal of Preventive Medicine, 40(1), 50–52.

McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (2008). The five-factor theory of personality. In O. P John, R. W. Robins, L. A. Pervin (Eds.), Handbook of personality. Theory and research (pp. 139–154). New York: The Guilford Press.

Mealey, D. L., & Host, T. R. (1992). Coping with test anxiety. College Teaching, 40(4), 147–150.

Misra, R., & Castillo, L. G. (2004). Academic Stress Among College Students: Comparison of American and International Students. International Journal of Stress Management, 11(2), 132–148.

Naveh-Benjamin, M., McKeachie, W. J., Lin, Y.-g., & Holinger, D. P. (1981). Test anxiety: Deficits in information processing. Journal of Educational Psychology, 73(6), 816–824.

Núñez-Peña, M. I., Suárez-Pellicioni, M., & Bono, R. (2016). Gender differences in test anxiety and their impact on higher education students’ academic achievement. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 228, 154–160.

Okun, M. A., & George, L. K. (1984). Physician-and self-ratings of health, neuroticism and subjective well-being among men and women. Personality and individual differences, 5(5), 533–539.

Orpen, C. (1996). The interactive effects of social support and test anxiety on student academic performance. Education, 116(3), 464–466.

Raufelder, D., Regner, N., & Wood, M. A. (2017). Test anxiety and learned helplessness is moderated by student perceptions of teacher motivational support. An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology, 38(1), 1–22.

Roberts, S. B., & Kendler, K. S. (1999). Neuroticism and self-esteem as indices of the vulnerability to major depression in women. Psychological medicine, 29(5), 1101–1109.

Sangsiry, S. S., & Sail, K. (2006). Effect of Students’ Perceptions of Course Load on Test Anxiety. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 70(2), 26.

Sarason, I. G. (1978). The test anxiety scale: Concept and research. In I. G. Sarason & C. D. Spielberger (Eds.), Stress and anxiety (Vol. 2, pp. 27–44). Hemisphere

Schmidt, L. A., & Rinolo, T. C. (1999). The role of neuroticism in test and social anxiety. Journal of Social Psychology, 139(3), 394–395. https.//

Smederevac, S., & Mitrović, D. (2006). Ličnost: metode i modeli. Društvo psihologa Srbije.

Stankovska, G., Dimitrovski, D., Angelkoska, S., Ibraimi, Z., & Uka, V. (2018). Emotional intelligence, test anxiety and academic stress among university students. In N. Popov, C. Wolhuter, J. M. Smith, G. Hilton, J. Ogunleye, E. Achinewhu-Nworgu, & E. Niemczyk (Eds.), Education in modern society (Vol. 16, pp. 157–164). Bulgarian Comparative Education Society.

Stavropoulos, V., Wilson, P., Kuss, D., Griffiths, M., & Gentile, D. (2017). A multilevel longitudinal study of experiencing virtual presence in adolescence: The role of anxiety and openness to experience in the classroom. Behaviour & Information Technology, 36(5), 524–539.

Subotić, S., & Marinković, N. (2018). A relationship of coping strategies with test anxiety and its recollection. In M. Karapetrović (Ed.). Proceedings of the Banja Luka November encounters 2018. scientific conference (pp. 225–237). University of Banja Luka, Faculty of Philosophy.

Tabachnick, B. G. & Fidell, L. S. (2013). Using multivariate statistics (6th ed.). Pearson.

Thatcher, J. B., Stepina, L. P., Srite, M., & Liu, Y. (2016). Culture, Overload and Personal Innovativeness with Information Technology: Extending the Nomological Net. Journal of Computer Information Systems, 40(1), 74–81.

Tsegay, L., Shumet, S., Damene, W., Gebreegziabhier, G., & Ayano, G. (2019). Prevalence and determinants of test anxiety among medical students in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. BMC medical education, 19(1), 1–10.

Tu, Y., & Shi, J. (2008). Moderating effect of self-efficacy on the relationship between neuroticism and test anxiety [in Chinese]. Chinese Journal of Clinical Psychology, 16(3), 280–282.

Uliaszek, A. A., Zinbarg, R. E., Mineka, S., Craske, M. G., Sutton, J. M., Griffith, J. W., ... & Hammen, C. (2010). The role of neuroticism and extraversion in the stress–anxiety and stress–depression relationships. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 23(4), 363–381.

Von der Embse, N., Jester, D., Roy, D., & Post, J. (2018). Test anxiety effects, predictors, and correlates: A 30-year meta-analytic review. Journal of Affective Disorders,22(7), 483–493.

Williams, R. G., Verhulst, S., Colliver, J. A., & Dunnington, G. L. (2005). Assuring the reliability of resident performance appraisals: more items or more observations?. Surgery, 137(2), 141–147.

Yildirim, I., Genctanirim, D., Yalcin, I., & Baydan, Y. (2008). Academic achievement, perfectionism and social support as predictors of test anxiety. Hacettepe Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 34(34), 287–296.

Yusefzadeh, H., Iranagh, J. A., & Nabilou, B. (2019). The effect of study preparation on test anxiety and performance: a quasi-experimental study. Advances in medical education and practice, 10, 245.doi: 10.2147/AMEP.S192053

Zeidner, M. (2007). Test anxiety in educational contexts: Concepts, findings, and future directions. In P. A. Schutz & R. Pekrun (Eds.), Emotion in education (pp. 165–184). Elsevier Academic Press. .

Zhang, Z., Xu, D., Li, Z., Liu, J., & Yang, Z. (2021). Neuroticism and Test Anxiety among Chinese Students: The Mediating Role of Intolerance of Uncertainty and Meta-worry. Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities,1(1), Page 1–9,

Zuckerman, M. (1991). Psychobiology of Personality. Cambridge University Press.

Zuckerman, M. (1992). What is a basic factor and which factors are basic? Turtles all the way down. Personality and Individual Differences, 13, 675–682.

Zuckerman, M., Kuhlman, D. M., Joireman, J., Teta, P., & Kraft, M. (1993). A comparison of three structural models for personality: the big three, the big five, and the alternative five. Journal of personality and social psychology, 65(4), 757.

Zuckerman, M. (1994). An alternative five-factor model for personality. In C. F. Halverson, Jr., G. A. Kohnstamm, & R. P. Martin (Eds.), The developing structure of temperament and personality from infancy to adulthood (pp. 53–68). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Zuckerman, M. (2002). Zuckerman-Kuhlman personality questionnaire (ZKPQ): An alternative factorial model. In B. DeRaad, & M. Perusini (Eds.), Big five assessment (pp. 377–396). Hogrefe anh Hubner Publishers.

Zunhammer, M., Eberle, H., Eichhammer, P., & Busch, V. (2013). Somatic Symptoms Evoked by Exam Stress in University Students: The Role of Alexithymia, Neuroticism, Anxiety and Depression. PLoS ONE, 8(12), 2–11,

How to Cite
Bačić, J., & Vujaković, L. (2022). Relationship between Alternative five-factor personality model traits and test anxiety: moderating role of time-management skills and course overload. Synesis: Journal for Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(3), 125-144.