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Etiological Distinction Across Dimensions of Math Anxiety

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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.

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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.

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Correspondence to Sarah L. Lukowski.

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Sarah L. Lukowski, Jack DiTrapani, Nicholas J. Rockwood, Minjeong Jeon, Lee A. Thompson, Stephen A. Petrill declare they have no conflict of interest.

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Informed consent was obtained from a parent/guardian of each of the child participants. All children provided informed assent to participate in the study.

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All procedures performed as a part of the study were in accordance with ethical standards and approved by the institutional review board.

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Lukowski, S.L., DiTrapani, J., Rockwood, N.J. et al. Etiological Distinction Across Dimensions of Math Anxiety. Behav Genet 49, 310–316 (2019).

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