## Consumers With Math Anxiety, a Financially Vulnerable Group? Unpacking the Negative Relation Between Math Anxiety and Performance on a Price Comparison Task

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**Title**

Consumers With Math Anxiety, a Financially Vulnerable Group? Unpacking the Negative Relation Between Math Anxiety and Performance on a Price Comparison Task

**Authors**

Andie Storozuk, Fraulein Retanal, and Erin A. Maloney (2023)

**Journal and DOI**

Journal: **Journal of Numerical Cognition, 9(1)**

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5964/jnc.10001

**Previous Research**

Math anxiety is relevant in a host of everyday situations involving math.

Lower math competency is associated with the tendency to make less optimal decisions.

There is a negative relationship between math anxiety and cognitive reflection both in general and in situations requiring math.

Consumers higher in math anxiety are more likely to make errors that result in reduced savings.

**What did we ask?**

How–and why–does math anxiety relate to a person’s ability to accurately compare product prices?

Do people with higher math anxiety represent a financially vulnerable population?

**How did we do it?**

North Americans (N = 256) were asked to select the better deal between two products differing in volume and price.

Math competency, price calculation ability, and cognitive reflection were all assessed.

**What did we find?**

Our research suggests that people who have high math anxiety are less capable of performing the necessary mathematical calculations in order to choose the most cost-effective deal between two items.

There is a possibility that consumers higher in math anxiety are less likely to use the resources available to them (i.e., a calculator) or that they lack the procedural or conceptual knowledge required to carry out the calculation properly.

These individuals are lower in math competency in general and are also less likely to engage in reflective thinking such as verifying that their calculation is correct.

**Take away Message**

Consumers higher in math anxiety may represent a financially vulnerable population, particularly in the context of financial tasks that are inherently mathematical. It is important to understand how math anxiety affects financial decisions, so that math anxious people can be provided with the tools to help them combat these tendencies and make more positive decisions.

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