Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 102, Issue 1, pp 111–125 | Cite as

Affect and emotions in mathematics education: toward a holistic psychology of mathematics education

  • Wolff-Michael RothEmail author
  • Margaret Walshaw


Emotions and affect have become an area of interest to mathematics research. However, both tend to be intellectualized and approached as external to and separate from intellect. As far back as in the 1930s, Vygotsky considered the split between affect and intellect as psychology’s greatest defect. To address that defect, over the last 18–24 months of his life, he sketched the barebones of a different psychology but died before he could develop his ideas into a theory of emotions. His ideas provided us with a roadmap for developing an approach in which intellect and affect are united to constitute a central part in the life of the whole person. Such a position, conceived here in dramatic terms, remains virtually unknown, in part because of the unavailability of specific texts and personal notes until a few years ago. In this study, we develop Vygotsky’s seeds and go beyond what he actually stated. We focus our conceptualization of affect on mathematics classroom practices and exemplify our theoretical perspective with empirical data drawn from a number of studies.


Affect Emotions Dualism Monism Personality Societal relations Drama 



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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.Massey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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