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In an effort to understand the origins of mathematics anxiety, we investigated the processing of symbolic magnitude by high mathematics-anxious (HMA) and low mathematics-anxious (LMA) individuals by examining their performance on two variants of the symbolic numerical comparison task. In two experiments, a numerical distance by mathematics anxiety (MA) interaction was obtained, demonstrating that the effect of numerical distance on response times was larger for HMA than for LMA individuals. These data support the claim that HMA individuals have less precise representations of numerical magnitude than their LMA peers, suggesting that MA is associated with low-level numerical deficits that compromise the development of higher level mathematical skills.


Erin A Maloney, Daniel Ansari, Jonathan A Fugelsang. The effect of mathematics anxiety on the processing of numerical magnitude. Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006). 2011 Jan;64(1):10-6

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PMID: 21113858

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