Maths phobia goes viral

This is a random collection of media responses from around the world to a study by  Ian Lyons and Sian Beilock, from the University of Chicago, published in the journal Plos One. From the abstract:

Math can be difficult, and for those with high levels

of mathematics-anxiety (HMAs), math is associated with tension, apprehension, and fear. But what underlies the feelings of dread effected by math anxiety? Are HMAs’ feelings about math merely psychological epiphenomena, or is their anxiety grounded in simulation of a concrete, visceral sensation – such as pain – about which they have every right to feel anxious? We show that, when anticipating an upcoming math-task, the higher one’s math anxiety, the more one increases activity in regions associated with visceral threat detection, and often the experience of pain itself (bilateral dorso-posterior insula). Interestingly, this relation was not seen during math performance, suggesting that it is not that math itself hurts; rather, the anticipation of math is painful. Our data suggest that pain network activation underlies the intuition that simply anticipating a dreaded event can feel painful. These results may also provide a potential neural mechanism to explain why HMAs tend to avoid math and math-related situations, which in turn can bias HMAs away from taking math classes or even entire math-related career paths.


1 thought on “Maths phobia goes viral

  1. People aren’t born with a Mathematics phobia .
    It’s a learned behavior because at some point of your life , not even knowing ‘when’ you decided you’re not good at mathematics. And so, your math phobia was born.

    Many people develop a phobia about math because of certain events in their past…
    …it could be any teacher who have criticized you or embarrassed you in front of the class when you made some mistakes solving a math problem…
    …it could be your lack of understanding of some basic concepts of mathematics which you never caught up with everyone else…
    …It could be your parents also who would have scolded you and discouraged you and have put a question mark on your ability to take up mathematics for further studies…
    Another important reason behind Mathematics phobia is believed to be gender difference. A general trend is often seen that girls are more phobic to Mathematics than boys. Girls are basically anxious in nature .Besides most of our elementary school teachers are women and it is seen that they often pass their anxiety or phobia towards the subject to their students and gradually a girl also starts believing that she cannot excel in the subject . From a research conducted on 566 male and 567 female students aged between 11 – 13 years in both single sex and co-educational school it has been found that Humanities and English are mostly preferred by girls while boys are more inclined towards Physical Education , Science and Mathematics .
    Teachers behavior overtly or covertly influences the classroom atmosphere by affecting their emotional responses, beliefs and behavior related towards Mathematics . Teachers serves as mentor and they are role model to their students .They should be careful enough about how their attitude towards Mathematics can affect a student. Teachers who belief about utility of Mathematics are often found to correlate with either a more positive or negative attitude towards the subject .If a teacher believes Mathematics have little utility in our daily life she will have a negative attitude towards the subject . And this negative attitude will be inculcated to their students. Teachers have to enhance their understanding the subject . Only sound knowledge in the subject will not be enough for a teacher to motivate his or her students. A teacher has to remember, Mathematics anxiety does not come from the subject itself but from the way the subject is presented in the school.


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