Editorial: Mathematical and Statistics Anxiety: Educational, Social, Developmental and Cognitive Perspectives

Editorial: Mathematical and Statistics Anxiety: Educational, Social, Developmental and Cognitive Perspectives

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Title: Editorial: Mathematical and Statistics Anxiety: Educational, Social, Developmental and Cognitive Perspectives 

Authors: Kinga Morsanyi, Irene C. Mammarella, Dénes Szücs, Carlo Tomasetto, Caterina Primi, & Erin A. Maloney. 

Journal & DOI: 

Journal: Frontiers in psychology, 7 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01083 

Previous Research:  

Math anxiety (MA) refers to fear or apprehension about doing math and working with numbers  

People with high math anxiety are more likely to avoid taking math-related courses which can limit their skills and career options.  

Almost ⅓ of adolescents experience math anxiety 

The majority of math anxiety research has been conducted in North America 

What Did We Ask? 

How has research contributed to the understanding of math anxiety thus far and how can it be improved (e.g., what are the social, environmental and physical implications of math anxiety, how does math anxiety impact people’s lives, and how can math anxiety be measured)? 

How Did We Do It? 

We examined several studies and literature reviews to synthesize the information that has already been gathered on math anxiety and organized it into key themes of math anxiety research. We then analyzed what existing research may indicate for our current understanding of math anxiety and future research in the field.    

What Did We Find? 

High math anxiety is correlated with low performance on non-math-related tasks (e.g., verbal short-term memory, working memory, and fact retrieval tasks) 

The Reciprocal Theory (where the causal link between math anxiety and math performance is bidirectional) seems most plausible 

How math anxiety is measured is not always specific to the population that is being assessed; for example, children and adults often use the same testing instruments 

There is a lack of research on math anxiety in young children, particularly a lack of longitudinal studies, both of which may be able to help reveal the origins of math anxiety 

Take Away Message:  

The field of math anxiety research has made significant progress, as recent findings continue to reveal both the causes and effects of math anxiety. 

Math anxiety research should continue to expand on novel topics such as the relationship between math anxiety and basic numerical processing, math anxiety and self-concept, math anxiety and self-confidence, as well as the social determinants of math anxiety. Researchers should also continue to develop and improve math anxiety measuring instruments to increase the accuracy of results. For example, math anxiety measuring instruments should be catered to the characteristics of the relevant population.   

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

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