|Title:||The influence of math anxiety on symbolic and non-symbolic magnitude processing.|
|Authors:||Dietrich, J. F.|
|Abstract:||Deficits in basic numerical abilities have been investigated repeatedly as potential risk factors of math anxiety. Previous research suggested that also a deficient approximate number system (ANS), which is discussed as being the foundation for later math abilities, underlies math anxiety. However, these studies examined this hypothesis by investigating ANS acuity using a symbolic number comparison task. Recent evidence questions the view that ANS acuity can be assessed using a symbolic number comparison task. To investigate whether there is an association between math anxiety and ANS acuity, we employed both a symbolic number comparison task and a non-symbolic dot comparison task, which is currently the standard task to assess ANS acuity. We replicated previous findings regarding the association between math anxiety and the symbolic distance effect for response times. High math anxious individuals showed a larger distance effect than less math anxious individuals. However, our results revealed no association between math anxiety and ANS acuity assessed using a non-symbolic dot comparison task. Thus, our results did not provide evidence for the hypothesis that a deficient ANS underlies math anxiety. Therefore, we propose that a deficient ANS does not constitute a risk factor for the development of math anxiety. Moreover, our results suggest that previous interpretations regarding the interaction of math anxiety and the symbolic distance effect have to be updated. We suggest that impaired number comparison processes in high math anxious individuals might account for the results rather than deficient ANS representations. Finally, impaired number comparison processes might constitute a risk factor for the development of math anxiety. Implications for current models regarding the origins of math anxiety are discussed.|
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