FFE Magazine

Hate math? Don’t worry — genetics may be on your Side

Hate math? Don’t worry — genetics may be on your Side

Study reveals that fear of math may be rooted on your genes.


In a study to be published in an upcoming edition of Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, researchers revealed that hating math may be in the genes.


To see if people’s experience of math was affected by genetic factors, Ohio State University researchers examined how the anxiety levels and math skills of 298 same-sex fraternal and 216 identical twins were related. Postdoctoral researcher in psychology and study lead author Zhe Wang said they found out ‘math anxiety’ can be traced to mental performance and a person’s ‘tendency towards anxiety.’


Principal investigator and psychology professor Stephen Petrill explained that ‘Genetic factors may worsen or lessen the risk of doing poorly at math.


‘If you have these genetic risk factors for math anxiety and then you have negative experiences in math classes, it may make learning that much harder.’


Environmental factors, like school and classroom quality, the home and others, may lead to further problems in math, said researchers, resulting in a downward spiraling process. Petrill said ‘You say the word “math” and some people actually cringe.


‘The anxiety response actually inhibits some people’s ability. We have to help children learn to regulate their emotions so that the anxiety doesn’t keep them from achieving their best in math.’


Researchers would like to know where the genetic component of anxiety comes from to shed more light on the issue. They also hope that their study will be used when considering ways to help those who have problems with math as anxiety can seriously affect learning.



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