Psychological Research

, Volume 81, Issue 1, pp 278–288 | Cite as

Physiological threat responses predict number processing

  • Annika Scholl
  • Korbinian Moeller
  • Daan Scheepers
  • Hans-Christoph Nuerk
  • Kai Sassenberg
Original Article

Abstract

Being able to adequately process numbers is a key competency in everyday life. Yet, self-reported negative affective responses towards numbers are known to deteriorate numerical performance. Here, we investigated how physiological threat responses predict numerical performance. Physiological responses reflect whether individuals evaluate a task as exceeding or matching their resources and in turn experience either threat or challenge, which influences subsequent performance. We hypothesized that, the more individuals respond to a numerical task with physiological threat, the worse they would perform. Results of an experiment with cardiovascular indicators of threat/challenge corroborated this expectation. The findings thereby contribute to our understanding of the physiological mechanism underlying the influence of negative affective responses towards numbers on numerical performance.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annika Scholl
    • 1
  • Korbinian Moeller
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daan Scheepers
    • 3
  • Hans-Christoph Nuerk
    • 2
  • Kai Sassenberg
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Leibniz-Institut fuer WissensmedienTuebingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and LEAD Graduate SchoolUniversity of TuebingenTuebingenGermany
  3. 3.Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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