The Royal Society

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Supplementary publication file from Math anxiety and subjective perception of control, value and success expectancy in mathematics

journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-17, 12:59 authored by Denes Szucs, Enrico Toffalini
Mathematics anxiety (MA) is an academic anxiety related to doing, learning and testing mathematics. MA can negatively affect mathematics performance, motivation and math-heavy science and technology-related career choices. Previous data suggest that subjective perceptions and interpretations of students are key in the genesis of MA. Here, based on expectancy-value and control- value theory, we aimed to identify potential, theoretically based subjective factors likely key to under- standing MA. We analysed data from 151 745 fifteen-year-old children from 65 ‘countries and economies' from the PISA 2012 dataset. Subjective self-perceptions had a stronger relationship with MA than math achievement. We found that higher MA was associated with lower perceived control over math activities and lower subjective expectation of success. Surprisingly, children with higher subjective valuation of math had higher MA for similar levels of subjective control and success expectancy in math. Results offer an improved understanding of potential antecedents of MA and suggest that effective interventions could be based on gradual confidence building in math. These could primarily draw on a deeper understanding of the subject improving subjective success expectancy and feeling of control over math activities. Cultural variation in findings is discussed.