Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Laura E. Knouse


For students in an academic setting, task avoidance is a common behavioral strategy used to cope with the unpleasant emotions associated with schoolwork and completing assignments. However, when this form of behavioral avoidance becomes a pattern, it has the potential to lead to negative long-term consequences–such as worse academic outcomes and increased stress. To counteract maladaptive behaviors such as task avoidance, a certain level of self-awareness of such behaviors may be necessary–even if this awareness leads to more negative emotions at first. To analyze the relationship between student task avoidance and emotions, the following study utilizes ecological momentary assessment (EMA) data from 101 undergraduate students to measure experiences of avoidance throughout the day in real-time and in participants’ naturalistic setting. Multilevel modeling was used and all analyses were conducted in R using the lmer package. Results suggest that avoidance behavior has negative consequences for momentary emotional outcomes. Students who report more avoidance behavior in general are more likely to experience greater negative emotion and less positive emotion at a given moment. This is also the case when a given student is avoiding more than usual. Awareness of avoidance was also associated with these patterns. Although awareness of problematic behavior like avoidance is necessary to change such behavior, it might lead to negative emotional outcomes in the moment. The results of this study can be used to develop interventions designed to reduce avoidance behavior that also include strategies for coping with the temporary negative emotions that accompany awareness of this maladaptive behavior.