# Cross validating a bidimensional mathematics anxiety scale

More recent studies have demonstrated that central neurochemical activities (e.g., catecholamine release and signaling) may underlie the observed curvilinear relationship between anxiety and complex cognitive performance (Arnsten, 2009; Diamond, Campbell, Park, Halonen, & Zoladz, 2007).

Therefore, given that these complex cognitive functions are crucial to mathematical processing (Ashcraft, 2002), it is plausible that a quadratic curvilinear relation between math performance and specific anxiety about math would be observed.

Math cognition was assessed using a comprehensive battery of mathematics tasks.

In both samples, results showed inverted-U relations between math anxiety and math performance in students with high intrinsic math motivation, and modest negative associations between math anxiety and math performance in students with low intrinsic math motivation.

In the current studies, we aimed to address the lack of attention given to the possibility of such complex interplay between emotion and cognition in the math-learning literature by exploring the relations among math anxiety, math motivation, and math cognition.

In two samples-young adolescent twins and adult college students-results showed inverted-U relations between math anxiety and math performance in participants with high intrinsic math motivation and modest negative associations between math anxiety and math performance in participants with low intrinsic math motivation.

This inverted-U law has since been extended to the relation between negative emotions such as anxiety and performance in complex memory and attention tasks that rely heavily on prefrontal cortex functioning in primates (Andreano & Cahill, 2006; Aston-Jones, Rajkowski, & Cohen, 2000; Mendl, 1999).

At the behavioral level, a moderate level of anxiety is believed to heighten alertness and focused attention, which facilitates complex cognitive functioning, whereas high anxiety impairs performance by diverting resources away from cognitive performance.

Such a multi-dimensional conceptualization of math-related affect is also consistent with the emotion literature that points to the bidimensionality in affective evaluative space (Norris, Gollan, Berntson, & Cacioppo, 2010) and the distinction between motivational direction and affective valence (Harmon-Jones, Gable, & Peterson, 2010).

positive) aspects of math experience, and are shown to be modestly negatively correlated (Chiu & Henry, 1990).

MA and MM are distinct constructs in that items measuring MA and MM are shown to load on separate factors (Bai, Wang, Pan, & Frey, 2009; Krinzinger, Kaufmann, & Willmes, 2009).

The relations between math anxiety (MA) and math cognition have been frequently studied, and the negative associations between the two have been observed at multiple levels of mathematical processing ranging from simple counting (Maloney, Risko, Ansari, & Fugelsang, 2010) to complex math problem solving (Ramirez, Gunderson, Levine, & Beilock, 2013), and is evident across various developmental stages (Maloney et al, 2010; Ramirez et al., 2013).

However, to conclude that MA uniformly impairs the development of math cognition might not fully capture the potentially complex interplay between emotion and cognition.

However, this pattern was not observed in tasks assessing student’s nonsymbolic and symbolic number estimation.

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