The role of math experiences and personality traits in math anxiety

O’Leary, Krystle (2014) The role of math experiences and personality traits in math anxiety. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Math anxiety has been defined by Richardson and Suinn (1972) as “unpleasant feelings, specifically, those of tension and anxiety that impede an individual’s ability to manipulate numbers and solve math problems in a variety of situations (pg. 551).” Although previous research has investigated the situational factors (e.g., language and symbols used in math) of math anxiety, little research has examined dispositional and environmental factors. The current study assessed both dispositional (i.e., the Big Five Personality traits) and environmental factors (i.e., different kinds of math experiences) associated with math anxiety. A total of 131 undergraduate students (34 males and 96 females; Mage = 20.81) completed paper and pencil measures of math anxiety, a personality measure of the Big Five Personality traits, a new measure specifically designed to explore different kinds of math experiences, and measures of general anxiety and test anxiety. Results showed a significant positive relationship between math anxiety and neuroticism, but this relationship became non-significant after controlling for general anxiety and test anxiety. Environmental factors including support in high school, the manner by which math is taught (e.g., giving students plenty of examples), and doing well at math (e.g., having good marks in math) were significantly related to the level of math anxiety experienced by students even after controlling for general and test anxiety. The implications of these findings for better understanding which individuals may be at risk for developing math anxiety are discussed, in addition to the creation of programs and tutorials to decrease math anxiety.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 6495
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 89-99).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: May 2014
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Mathematics--Study and teaching--Psychological aspects; Personality and intelligence; Neuroticism; Anxiety--Testing

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