RT Journal Article
SR Electronic
T1 Calculated avoidance: Math anxiety predicts math avoidance in effort-based decision-making
JF Science Advances
JO Sci Adv
FD American Association for the Advancement of Science
SP eaay1062
DO 10.1126/sciadv.aay1062
VO 5
IS 11
A1 Choe, Kyoung Whan
A1 Jenifer, Jalisha B.
A1 Rozek, Christopher S.
A1 Berman, Marc G.
A1 Beilock, Sian L.
YR 2019
UL http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/11/eaay1062.abstract
AB Math anxiety—negative feelings toward math—is hypothesized to be associated with the avoidance of math-related activities such as taking math courses and pursuing STEM careers. However, there is little experimental evidence for the math anxiety-avoidance link. Such evidence is important for formulating how to break this relationship. We hypothesize that math avoidance emerges when one perceives the costs of effortful math engagement to outweigh its benefits and that this perception depends on individual differences in math anxiety. To test this hypothesis, we developed an effort-based decision-making task in which participants chose between solving easy, low-reward problems and hard, high-reward problems in both math and nonmath contexts. Higher levels of math anxiety were associated with a tendency to select easier, low-reward problems over harder, high-reward math (but not word) problems. Addressing this robust math anxiety-avoidance link has the potential to increase interest and success in STEM fields.