Etiological Distinction Across Dimensions of Math Anxiety
Analyses have suggested math anxiety is a multidimensional construct. However, previous behavioral genetic work examining math anxiety was unidimensional. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to examine different approaches for specifying behavioral genetic models of math anxiety as a multidimensional construct. Three models were compared: a unidimensional model, a three dimension multidimensional model, and a bi-factor model, which partitioned variance into one common factor shared across three dimensions of math anxiety and examined residual variance in each dimension. The best fitting model was a bi-factor AE model, which suggested moderate heritability of general math anxiety and that each dimension of math anxiety had unique etiological influences not accounted for by shared variance with the general math anxiety factor. Thus, while there was evidence of shared etiology, there was also evidence of some etiological distinction across dimensions of math anxiety. The results demonstrate the importance of taking into account the dimensionality of the scale when interpreting similarity across twins.
KeywordsMath anxiety Calculation anxiety Test anxiety Classroom anxiety Quantitative genetics Twin methods School-aged children Dimensionality
The authors would like to thank Dr. Katherine Rhodes for her insightful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. This work was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grants HD038075, HD059215, and HD075460. S. Lukowski was supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation through the Graduate Research Fellowship Program, DGE-1343012.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
Sarah L. Lukowski, Jack DiTrapani, Nicholas J. Rockwood, Minjeong Jeon, Lee A. Thompson, Stephen A. Petrill declare they have no conflict of interest.
Informed consent was obtained from a parent/guardian of each of the child participants. All children provided informed assent to participate in the study.
All procedures performed as a part of the study were in accordance with ethical standards and approved by the institutional review board.
- Ashcraft MH, Ridley KS (2005) Math anxiety and its cognitive consequences: a tutorial review. In: Campbell JID (ed) Handbook of mathematical cognition. Psychology Press, New York, pp 315–327Google Scholar
- Beilock SL, Willingham DT (2014) Ask the cognitive scientist—math anxiety: Can teachers help students reduce it? Am Educator 38:28–33Google Scholar
- Dowker A, Sarkar A, Looi CY (2016) Mathematics anxiety: what have we learned in 60 years? Front Psychol 7:508Google Scholar
- Lukowski SL, DiTrapani J, Jeon M, Wang Z, Schenker VJ, Doran MM, Hart SA, Mazzocco MMM, Willcutt EG, Thompson LA, Petrill SA (2016) Multidimensionality in the measurement of math-specific anxiety and its relationship with mathematical performance. Learn Individ Differ. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2016.07.007 Google Scholar
- Muthén LK, Muthén BO (1998–2011) Mplus user’s guide [computer software manual]. Los Angeles, CAGoogle Scholar