Difference Between Facilitative Anxiety and Debilitative Anxiety

Anxiety may be either helpful or detrimental, depending on the circumstances and how the individual reacts to and processes the pressures, worries, and events they encounter. Readiness for competition was shown to be the most often recognized antecedent of both beneficial and detrimental competitive anxiety in a study. Subjects in the study saw their anxiousness either as an asset or a hindrance to their performance, depending on how well prepared they felt.

What is Facilitative Anxiety?

Anxiety that is beneficial to performance is known as facilitative anxiety (American Psychological Association, 2020). Anxiety is thought to be motivated because of its perceived intensity. This type of anxious person views stress as a challenge rather than a threat.

Studies have shown that students who view their worry as helpful are more likely to succeed academically and are less likely to feel emotionally drained after a long day. The results of a similar study showed that pupils who had more manageable test anxiety also had higher mean test scores.

Research comparing the propensities for crippling and empowering anxiety found that top athletes tended to see their anxiety in a positive light. More so, individuals who saw the event as beneficial rather than detrimental reported reduced levels of worry.

As a result, it is recommended that we see anxiety in a more supportive light and consider it a helpful emotion. People might feel in charge when they perceive that the circumstances are conducive to mental preparation and performance. This might help artists manage their nerves and reach their full potential.

What is Debilitative Anxiety?

Debilitative anxiety interferes with performance (American Psychological Association, 2020). It's the degree of worry that's scary. One study suggested that feeling emotionally drained was linked to reporting debilitating anxiety (Strack & Esteves, 2014).

Debilitating exam anxiety has been linked to poorer semester averages, as was demonstrated in a comparable study (Kader, 2016). Anxiety levels were higher for athletes who saw their situation as inhibiting than for those who saw it as helping them perform better (Jones, Hanton, & Swain, 1994).

People who suffer from this form of anxiety are constantly troubled by thoughts of doom and terror because they see everyday stresses as dangerous. As a result of internalizing their anxiety, they are unable to perform optimally under specific conditions.

In severe cases of anxiousness, this might manifest as a general unwillingness to put up any effort whatsoever. A candidate who saw the job interview as a challenge ended up missing his scheduled appointment.

Differences: Facilitative Anxiety and Debilitative Anxiety

The following table highlights the major differences between Facilitative Anxiety and Debilitative Anxiety −


Facilitative Anxiety

Debilitative Anxiety


Anxiety can be helpful if it's "facilitating." Anxiety is thought to be motivating because of its perceived intensity.

Performance suffers when anxiety levels are chronically high. It's how worried you feel, and whether or not that worries you (American Psychological Association, 2020).

Interpretation of stressors

Stressors are seen as challenges rather than dangers by those with facilitative anxiety.

People who suffer from debilitative anxiety tend to see stresses more as dangers than as challenges.

Academic performance

According to the findings of Strack and Esteves (2014), a positive view of anxiety is related to better academic outcomes.

One's academic performance tends to suffer when one believes their nervousness will keep them from doing their best.

Attitude towards tasks

Motivated to accomplish tasks.

Task avoidance


Facilitative anxiety, in particular, sees threats as opportunities and boosts performance. However, debilitative anxiety sees stresses as dangers and gets in the way of daily activities.

Updated on: 26-Apr-2023


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