Afraid of math? It may not be your fault…

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I am sure through our many years of schooling most people can agree that one of their most feared or hated subject is math. Most people link this hatred or fear with bad experiences when they’ve sat there for hours trying to figure out a math problem with no result. But what if I told you it wasn’t your fault that you do not understand these problems and it has something to do with your genes.

Researchers have found that some people are more likely to have a fear towards math due to genetic factors and not just previous bad experiences.1 Although this study explains how genetics may have something to do with math anxiety it states that genetics can’t be solely blamed for problems people have with math.1 Instead this study states that genetic factors explain about 40% of the differences in math anxiety and the rest is explained by difference in learning environments.1

The study examined both identical and fraternal twins who participated in the Western Reserve Reading and Math Projects where they completed a variety of assignments to test for math anxiety and comprehension skills.1 To study the effect of genetics the researchers used statistical methods to see how anxiety and comprehension differed among identical and fraternal twins. From this study the researchers found that “Math anxiety is related to both the cognitive side and the affective side of general anxiety.”1

Even though some of a person’s anxiety towards math may be due to genetics it is also a good idea to learn how to deal with anxiety as a whole. Anxiety can be due to many things and even making the most subtle change to your lifestyle can help get rid of your anxiety. Some simple steps about how to deal with anxiety can range from changing your diet to using new approaches to solve a problem.

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A video by Dr. Sandra Parker explaining ways to deal with anxiety.

In conclusion, the researchers from Ohio State University are still working on determining a concrete link between math anxiety and genetics and will further add to their findings in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

– Inderbir Bhullar


[1] Ohio State University. (2014, March 17). Who’s afraid of math? Study finds some genetic factors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 17, 2014 from

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