Evaluation Apprehension model

Evaluation Apprehension model

The Evaluation Apprehension Theory was proposed by Cottell in 1972. He argued that we quickly learn that social rewards and punishments (for example, in the form of approval and disapproval), that we receive from other people are based on their evaluations of us. When we find ourselves with a social presence, we will experience an acquired arousal based on evaluation apprehension. In other words, performance will be enhanced or impaired only in the presence of persons who can approve or disapprove the performance. When we find ourselves with a social presence, we will experience an acquired arousal based on evaluation apprehension.

For example, a person who is trying out for cheerleading will not feel a heighten sense of arousal leading to incompetence just because others are around, but because of the fear that others are observing and ridiculing them. The train of thought may even lead to worriement that those watching will be unfavorably talking about said person for the following months to the entire school or embarrassing pictures will be taken and put up around town.

Feelings of concern about evaluation nearly always occurs when in the presence of others. However, Cottrell in 1968 tried to separate these variables in an experiment. He found that there was no social facilitation effect on three well-learned tasks performed by a participant when there were two other persons (part of the study) blindfolded and supposedly preparing for a perception study. The participants would perform the same as the participants who were to perform the three well-learned tasks alone. Dominant responses (sharper and quicker) were given mainly by participants that had to perform the three tasks in the presence of seeing persons apart of the study unknown to the participant.

People may experience evaluation apprehension when they are part of a negatively stereotyped group and involved in a stereotype- linked activity. For example women taking a math test may not perform to their full potential because of concerns regarding women’s stereotyped difficulties with math. In this situation, evaluation apprehension is called stereotype threat. Stereotype threat can also occur in private, whereas evaluation apprehension cannot.

See also


  • Cottrell, N.B. (1972). Social Facilitation. In C. McClintock (ed.), Experimental Social Psychology (pp. 185-236). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
  • Cottrell, N.B., Wack, D.L., Sekerak, G.J. and Rittle, R.H. (1968). Social facilitation of dominant responses by presence of others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9, 245-50.
  • Fein, S., Kassin, S., & Markus, H.R. (2008). Social Psychology. Houghton Mifflin Company

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