


Kinga Morsanyi Queen's University Belfast Chiara Busdraghi University of Florence Caterina Primi University of Florence
When asked to solve mathematical problems, some people experience anxiety and threat, which can lead to impaired maths performance. The present studies investigated the link between maths anxiety and performance on the cognitive reflection test (CRT). The CRT is a measure of a personâ€™s ability to resist intuitive response tendencies, and it correlates strongly with important reallife outcomes, such as time preferences, risktaking, and rational thinking. Experiment 1 demonstrated that mathematical anxiety was a significant predictor of cognitive reflection, even after controlling for the effects of mathematical knowledge and test anxiety. In Experiment 2 both working memory load and mathematical anxiety were associated with lower levels of cognitive reflection. A potential explanation is that maths anxiety is linked to lower levels of cognitive reflection, because anxious thoughts burden working memory resources. Given earlier findings that showed a close link between cognitive reflection, unbiased decisions and rationality, our results suggest that mathematical anxiety might be negatively related to individualsâ€™ ability to make advantageous choices and good decisions.
Does maths anxiety make people bad decisionmakers? The link between mathematical anxiety and cognitive reflection. (460 KB)