The Relationship between State Math Anxiety and Working Memory Capacity
Sovansky, Erin E.
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Previous work has found that math-anxious individuals perform more poorly on math-related working memory capacity (WMC) measures (Ashcraft & Kirk, 2001).However, based on previous work it is unclear whether having trait math anxiety causes deficits specific to math-related working memory capacity, or if instead math-related tasks trigger a state of math anxiety in math anxious individuals that lowers WMC in general. To test whether reduction in WMC is due to being in a state of math anxiety, this study attempted to induce a state of math anxiety by providing participants with a warning that they will have to perform math, by having participants complete a math test, or a combination of both. Participants then completed verbal, spatial, and math-related WMC measures. The anxiety manipulations did not appear to induce a state of math anxiety, and did not lead to poorer performance on any WMC measure. Additionally, this study failed to replicate previous work and did not find that math-related WMC performance decreases with increasing math anxiety.
math anxiety, working memory, executive functioning