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Study Finds Math Anxiety Can be Due to Genetic Factors

April 2, 2014

A new study found that math anxiety is not just due to negative experiences, but also because of genetic risks related to both general anxiety and math skills. Ohio State University professor Stephen Petrill and colleagues examined how twins differ on measures of math anxiety to explain why some children and even adults develop fear of math, leading them to solve math problems with much difficulty.

Results of their study showed that genetic factors influence about 40 percent of the individual differences in math anxiety. The remaining percentage is attributed to environmental factors. "If you have these genetic risk factors for math anxiety and then you have negative experiences in math classes, it may make learning that much harder. It is something we need to account for when we're considering interventions for those who need help in math," Petrill explains.