Does math cause stress?

People who experience feelings of stress when faced with situations related to mathematics may be experiencing what is called “math anxiety.”. Math anxiety affects many people and is related to poor math ability in school and later in adulthood.

Does math cause stress?

People who experience feelings of stress when faced with situations related to mathematics may be experiencing what is called “math anxiety.”. Math anxiety affects many people and is related to poor math ability in school and later in adulthood. Math anxiety affects people of all ages. It can lead to poor performance in math classes.

And its effects don't end with graduation. Throughout life, this type of stress can hinder the mastery of skills or projects in a number of areas that are computer-based. Math anxiety is more than just stressing out during a math test. It is an intense sense of worry or fear that people have when they have to do a math task.

It can happen at home, at school, or at work. Math anxiety, also known as math phobia, is anxiety about a person's ability to do math. Many students say they don't like math. But for some, the problem with mathematics is more than just not liking algebra or fractions.

Mathematics anxiety describes a persistent and habitual type of anxiety and can be understood as a trait that represents a fairly stable characteristic of an individual and that influences the way in which an individual feels, perceives and evaluates specific situations. 10 people anxious about mathematics experience increased levels of anxiety in situations related to mathematics. Anxiety about state mathematics is manifested emotionally, cognitively and physiologically and leads to results such as decreased performance. On an emotional level, people suffer from feelings of tension, apprehension, nervousness and worry 1.18 On a cognitive level, mathematical anxiety compromises the functioning of working memory (as described in greater detail below).

In a study focusing on the fear network, 26 children with high mathematical anxiety showed hyperactivity and abnormal connectivity in the right basolateral amygdala, suggesting that the effects of math anxiety on these networks depend on age. Mathematically eager students (often women) avoid enrolling not only in mathematics courses but also in related fields such as science, technology and engineering. Anxiety and interest in mathematics were more important to students' career decisions than their knowledge of mathematics, as measured by SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) scores. Those with high math anxiety scored significantly better on the test if they had been in the expressive writing group than if they had simply sat in silence.

They refer to environmental factors such as the attitudes of teachers and parents towards the capacity of their students and their children in mathematics, social stereotypes (for example, about women's mathematical abilities) or personal factors such as traits or gender. The influence of success in mathematics on math anxiety, perceived mathematical competence, and math performance. As described above, mathematical anxiety is related to cognitive processing deficits in working memory and, consequently, to poor performance and poor assimilation of knowledge in task-related situations. With regard to mathematics, self-efficacy describes a person's belief that, through their own action and effort, they can successfully perform in mathematics.

Figure 1 suggests that math anxiety interacts with other variables in situations related to mathematics. Long-term studies are needed in which the development of gender differences in mathematical anxiety can be observed throughout the formative years of children. There are also students who struggle with mathematics, but do not have the resources that can help them, making them anxious about it. The effects of math anxiety on performance have been extensively researched and its negative impact has been recognized.

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Louise Simard
Louise Simard

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