There are a number of reasons why people get anxious about math — maybe a teacher wasn’t very supportive, or you found yourself cringing at the thought of solving difficult problems — and now a new study may help explain why some of us struggle more than others.
Do you get nervous at just the sight of an equation, or shudder when someone mentions doing math? Anxiety over math is a real thing for many people and it turns out — our genes may be to blame.
Researchers at The Ohio State University found that math anxiety isn’t caused solely by environment and negative experiences but it’s also due to a person’s “genetic risks related to both general anxiety and math skills.”
The study compared fraternal and identical twins who had differing levels of fear over math and they found that genetic factors explained about 40-percent of the differences in anxiety over math.
They say the rest was explained by environment — such as the type of support received at school.
The researchers say the effects of environment on math skills has long been known but this study provides a powerful example of how genetic factors — even if they aren’t the primary reason — can exacerbate or reduce the risk of doing poorly in math.
And — they say if they can figure out what causes people to be anxious about math, they may be able to develop ways to help them.