Appraisals of previous math experiences play an important role in math anxiety

Appraisals of previous math experiences play an important role in math anxiety

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Appraisals of previous math experiences play an important role in math anxiety 


Hunt, T. E., & Maloney, E. A. 

Journal and DOI:  

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2022, p.1-12. DOI: 10.1111/nyas.14805 

What is math anxiety?  

Recent research has found that math anxiety (feelings of apprehension or fear about math) and math achievement have a reciprocal relation. That is, performing poorly in math can lead to math anxiety, and math anxiety can lead to performing poorly in math.  

Researchers found that one reason why one may develop math anxiety is due to unique interpretation of math-related events. 

What did we ask?  

We theorized that a person’s appraisal of math-related experiences could contribute to the development of math anxiety. Therefore, we asked the following question: Are appraisals of previous math experiences, mathematical resilience, math anxiety, and math attitude all interrelated? 

How did we test it?  

We asked 308 adults to complete an online survey in which we measured their appraisals of their previous math experiences, their math anxiety, their attitudes towards mathematics and their mathematical resilience. 

What did we find?  

Appraisals of previous math experience was moderately positively related to both math attitudes and mathematical resilience, and strongly negatively related to math anxiety. 

Appraisals of previous math experience partially explained the relation between math anxiety and math attitudes, as well as the relation between mathematical resilience and math attitudes. That is, an individual’s appraisal of their own prior math experiences shapes their current attitudes toward math. 

Why is it important?  

The findings highlight the significance of examining a person’s individual appraisal of their previous math experiences when studying their math anxiety and attitudes. This will help us better understand why math anxiety and negative math attitudes develop. This study also created a novel tool for the appraisal of previous math experiences, the APMES.  

Brought to you by Dr. Erin Maloney’s Cognition and Emotion Lab at the University of Ottawa.  

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