Share This Article:
Review Paper

Mathematics Anxiety and Its Development in the Course of Formal Schooling—A Review

Full-Text HTML Download Download as PDF (Size:242KB) PP. 27-35
DOI: 10.4236/psych.2013.46A2005    6,927 Downloads   10,537 Views   Citations


The purpose of the this article is to provide an overview of the current state of research concerning the development, determining factors and effects of mathematics anxiety, particularly with regard to young elementary school age level populations. Assessment instruments, potential risk-factors, consequences of mathematics anxiety, as well as approaches to intervention are summarized. Owing to the small number of studies focusing on mathematics anxiety in young children, findings from adult studies are briefly recapitulated. The available data emphasizes the need for systematic research that focuses on the one hand on the onset of mathematics anxiety at a young age, and on the other follows the development of longer periods of time. Furthermore, multi-method research designs may be the means to gain deeper insight into the dynamics of causes and effects when the interaction of mathematics anxiety and mathematical abilities are under scrutiny. Only by implementing longitudinal studies that involve different types of data and the formulation of complex models of the dynamics of mathematics anxiety over time, can its determining factors and its effects be generated.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Eden, C. , Heine, A. & Jacobs, A. (2013). Mathematics Anxiety and Its Development in the Course of Formal Schooling—A Review. Psychology, 4, 27-35. doi: 10.4236/psych.2013.46A2005.


[1] Aarnos, E., & Perkkila, P. (2012). Early signs of mathematics anxiety? Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 1495-1499. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.05.328
[2] Alexander, L., & Martray, C. R. (1989). The development of an abbreviated version of the Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 22, 143-150.
[3] Aronson, J., Lustina, M. J., Good, C., Keough, K., Steele, C. M., & Brown, J. (1999). When white men can’t do math: Necessary and sufficient factors in stereotype threat. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 29-46. doi:10.1006/jesp.1998.1371
[4] Ashcraft, M. H., & Faust, M. W. (1994). Mathematics anxiety and mental arithmetic performance: An exploratory investigation. Cognition & Emotion, 8, 97-125. doi:10.1080/02699939408408931
[5] Ashcraft, M. H., & Kirk, E. P. (2001). The relationships among working memory, math anxiety, and performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 130, 224-237. doi:10.1037/0096-3445.130.2.224
[6] Ashcraft, M. H., Krause, J. A., & Hopko, D. R. (2007). Is math anxiety a mathematical learning disability? In D. B. Berch, & M. M. M. Mazzocco (Eds.), Why is math so hard for some children? (pp. 329-348). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.
[7] Ashcraft, M. H., & Moore, A. M. (2009). Mathematics anxiety and the affective drop in performance. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 27, 197-205. doi:10.1177/0734282908330580
[8] Ashcraft, M. H., & Ridley, K. S. (2005). Math anxiety and its cognitive consequences—A tutorial review. In J. I. D. Campbell (Ed.), Handbook of mathematical cognition (pp. 315-327). New York: Psychology Press.
[9] Bandalos, D. L., Yates, K., & Thorndike-Christ, T. (1995). Effects of math self-concept, perceived self-efficacy, and attributions for failure and success on test anxiety. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87, 611-623. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.87.4.611
[10] Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. New York: General Learning Press.
[11] Bandura, A., & Locke, E. (2003). Negative self-efficacy and goal effects revisited. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 87-99. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.88.1.87
[12] Beilock, S. L., Gunderson, E. A., Ramirez, G., & Levine, S. C. (2010). Female teacher’s math anxiety affects girls’ math achievement. PNAS, 107, 1860-1863. doi:10.1073/pnas.0910967107
[13] Ben-Zeev, T., Duncan, S., & Forbes, C. (2005). Stereotypes and math performance. In J. I. D. Campbell (Ed.), Handbook of mathematical cognition (pp. 235-249). New York: Psychology Press.
[14] Betz, N. E. (1978). Prevalence, distribution, and correlates of math anxiety in college students. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 25, 441-448. doi:10.1037/0022-0167.25.5.441
[15] Capraro, M. M., Capraro, R. M., & Henson, R. K. (2001). Measurement error of scores on the mathematics anxiety rating scale across studies. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 61, 373-386. doi:10.1177/00131640121971266
[16] Chiu, L. H., & Henry, L. L. (1990). Development and validation of the mathematics anxiety scale for children. Measurement and evaluation in counseling and development, 23, 121-127.
[17] Dennis, K., Daly, C., & Provost, S. C. (2003). Prevalence, contributing factors, and management strategies for test and maths anxiety in first-year psychology students. Australian Journal of Psychology, Supplement, 55, 176.
[18] Devine, A., Fawcett, K., Szucs, D., & Dowker, A. (2012). Gender differences in mathematics anxiety and the relation to mathematics performance while controlling for test anxiety. Behavioral and Brain Functions, 8, 1-9. doi:10.1186/1744-9081-8-33
[19] Dew, K. H., Galassi, J. P., & Galassi, M. D. (1984). Math anxiety: Relation with situational test anxiety, performance, physiological arousal, and math avoidance behavior. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 31, 580-583. doi:10.1037/0022-0167.31.4.580
[20] Dreger, R. M., & Aiken, L. R. (1957). The identification of number anxiety in a college population. Journal of Educational Psychology, 48, 344-351. doi:10.1037/h0045894
[21] Dykeman, B. F. (1994). The effects of motivational orientation, self-efficacy, and feedback condition on test anxiety. Journal of instructional psychology, 21, 114-120.
[22] Eccles, J. S., Jacobs, J. E., & Harold, R. D. (1990). Gender role stereotypes, expectancy effects, and parents’ socialization of gender differences. Journal of Social Issues, 46, 183-201. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.1990.tb01929.x
[23] Ehlers, A., & Breuer, P. (1996). How good are patients with panic disorder at perceiving their heartbeats? Biological Psychology, 42, 165-182. doi:10.1016/0301-0511(95)05153-8
[24] Eysenck, M. W., & Calvo, M. G. (1992). Anxiety and performance: The processing efficiency theory. Cognition and Emotion, 6, 409-434. doi:10.1080/02699939208409696
[25] Fennema, E. (1989). The study of affect and mathematics: A proposed generic model for research. In D. B. McLeod, & V. M. Adams (Eds.), Affect and mathematical problem solving: A new perspective (pp. 205-219). New York: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-1-4612-3614-6_14
[26] Fennema, E., & Sherman, J. A. (1976). Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitudes Scales: Instruments designed to measure attitudes toward the learning of mathematics by females and males. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 7, 324-326. doi:10.2307/748467
[27] Flessati, S. L., & Jamieson, J. (1991). Gender differences in mathematics anxiety: An artefact of response bias? Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 3, 303-312.
[28] Gierl, M. J., & Bisanz, J. (1995). Anxieties and attitudes related to mathematics in grades 3 and 6. The Journal of Experimental Education, 63, 139-158. doi:10.1080/00220973.1995.9943818
[29] Gough, M. F. (1954). Mathemaphobia: Causes and treatments. Clearing House, 28, 290-294.
[30] Harper, N. W., & Daane, C. J. (1998). Causes and reduction of math anxiety in preservice elementary teachers. Action in Teacher Education, 19, 29-38. doi:10.1080/01626620.1998.10462889
[31] Hembree, R. (1990). The nature, effects and relief of mathematics anxiety. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 21, 33-46. doi:10.2307/749455
[32] Hodapp, V., & Benson, J. (1997). The multidimensionality of test anxiety: A test of different models. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 10, 219-245. doi:10.1080/10615809708249302
[33] Hopko, D. R. (2003). Confirmatory factor analysis of the math anxiety rating scale (revised). Educational and Psychological Measurement, 63, 336-351. doi:10.1177/0013164402251041
[34] Hopko, D. R., Ashcraft, M. H., Gute, J., Ruggiero, K. J., & Lewis, C. (1998). Mathematics anxiety and working memory: Support for the existence of a deficient inhibition mechanism. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 12, 343-355. doi:10.1016/S0887-6185(98)00019-X
[35] Hopko, D. R., Mahadevan, R., Bare, R. L., & Hunt, M. K. (2003). The abbreviated math anxiety scale (AMAS): Construction, validity, and reliability. Assessment, 10, 178-182. doi:10.1177/1073191103010002008
[36] Jackson, C. D., & Leffingwell, R. J. (1999). The role of instructors in creating math anxiety in students from kindergarten through college. The Mathematics Teacher, 92, 583-586.
[37] Jain, S., & Dowson, M. (2009). Mathematics anxiety as a function of multidimensional self-regulation and self-efficacy. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 34, 240-249. doi:10.1016/j.cedpsych.2009.05.004
[38] Jamieson, J. P., Mendes, W. B., Blackstock, E., & Schmader, T. (2010). Turning the knots in your stomach into bows: Reappraising arousal improves performance on the GRE. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 208-212. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2009.08.015
[39] Krinzinger, H., Kaufmann, L., & Willmes, K. (2009). Math anxiety and math ability in early primary school years. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 27, 206-225. doi:10.1177/0734282908330583
[40] Lyons, I. M., & Beilock, S. L. (2011). Mathematics anxiety: Separating the math from the anxiety. Cerebral Cortex, 22, 2102-2110. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhr289
[41] Ma, X. (1999). A meta-analysis of the relationship between anxiety toward mathematics and achievement in mathematics. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 30, 520-540. doi:10.2307/749772
[42] Ma, X., & Xu, J. (2004). The causal ordering of mathematics anxiety and mathematics achievement: A longitudinal panel analysis. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 165-179. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2003.11.003
[43] Maloney, E. A., & Beilock, S. L. (2012). Math anxiety: Who has it, why it develops, and how to guard against it. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 16, 404-406. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2012.06.008
[44] Maloney, E. A., Waechter, S., Risko, E. F., & Fugelsang, J. A. (2012). Reducing the sex difference in math anxiety: The role of spatial processing ability. Learning and Individual Differences, 22, 380-384. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2012.01.001
[45] Manstead, A. S. R., & Van-Eekelen, S. A. M. (1998). Distinguishing between perceived behavioral control and self-efficacy in the domain of academic intentions and behaviors. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 28, 1375-1392. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.1998.tb01682.x
[46] Newby-Fraser, E., & Schlebusch, L. (1998). Social support, self-efficacy and assertiveness as mediators of student stress. Journal of human behavior, 34, 61-69.
[47] Plake, B. S., & Parker, C. S. (1982). The development and validation of a revised version of the mathematics anxiety rating scale. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 42, 551-557. doi:10.1177/001316448204200218
[48] Ramirez, G., Gunderson, E. A., Levine, S. C., & Beilock, S. L. (in press). Math anxiety, working memory and math achievement in early elementary school. Journal of Cognition and Development.
[49] Richardson, F. C., & Suinn, R. M. (1972). The mathematics anxiety rating scale: Psychometric data. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 19, 551-554. doi:10.1037/h0033456
[50] Rotzer, S., Loenneker, T., Kucian, K., Martin, E., Klaver, P., & von Aster, M. (2009). Dysfunctional neural network of spatial working memory contributes to developmental dyscalculia. Neuropsychologia, 47, 2859-2865. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009.06.009
[51] Sherman, B., & Wither, D. (2003). Mathematics anxiety and mathematics achievement. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 15, 138-150. doi:10.1007/BF03217375
[52] Spencer, S. J., Steele, C. M., & Quinn, D. M. (1999). Stereotype threat and women’s math performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 4-28. doi:10.1006/jesp.1998.1373
[53] Stuart, V. B. (2000). Math curse or math anxiety? Teaching Children Mathematics, 6, 330-338.
[54] Suinn, R. M., & Edwards, R. (1982). The measurement of mathematics anxiety: The mathematics anxiety rating scale for adolescents—MARS-A. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38, 576-580. doi:10.1002/1097-4679(198207)38:3<576::AID-JCLP2270380317>3.0.CO;2-V
[55] Suinn, R. M., Taylor, S., & Edwards, R. W. (1988). Suinn mathematics anxiety rating scale for elementary school students (MARS-E): Psychometric and normative data. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 48, 979-986. doi:10.1177/0013164488484013
[56] Tryon, G. S. (1980). The measurement and treatment of test anxiety. Review of Educational Research, 50, 343-372. doi:10.3102/00346543050002343
[57] Turner, J. C., Midgley, C., Meyer, D. K., Gheen, M., Anderman, E. M., Kang, Y. et al. (2002). The classroom environment and students’ reports of avoidance strategies in mathematics: A multimethod study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 88-106. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.94.1.88
[58] Vukovic, R. K., Kieffer, M. J., Bailey, S. P., & Harari, R. R. (2013). Mathematics anxiety in young children: Concurrent and longitudinal associations with mathematical performance. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 38, 1-10. doi:10.1016/j.cedpsych.2012.09.001
[59] Wilhelm, F. H., & Roth, W. T. (1998). Taking the laboratory to the skies: Ambulatory assessment of self-report, automatic, and respiratory responses in flying phobia. Psychophysiology, 35, 596-606. doi:10.1017/S0048577298970196
[60] Wu, S. S., Barth, M., Amin, H., Malcarne, V., & Menon, V. (2012). Math anxiety in second and third graders and its relation to mathematics achievement. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 162. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00162
[61] Young, C. B., Wu, S. S., & Menon, V. (2012). The neurodevelopmental basis of math anxiety. Psychological Science, 23, 492-501. doi:10.1177/0956797611429134
[62] Zakaria, E., & Nordin, M. N. (2008). The effects of mathematics anxiety on matriculation students as related to motivation and achievement. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics Science and Technology Education, 4, 27-30.

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2018 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.