Consumers With Math Anxiety, a Financially Vulnerable Group? Unpacking the Negative Relation Between Math Anxiety and Performance on a Price Comparison Task
Comparison shopping is good financial practice, but situations involving numbers and computations are challenging for consumers with math anxiety. We asked North Americans (N = 256) to select the better deal between two products differing in volume and price. As predicted, math anxiety was negatively related to performance on this Price Comparison Task. We then explored the mechanism underlying this relation by testing math competency, price calculation ability, need for cognition, and cognitive reflection as potential mediators. The results from a competing mediator analysis indicated that all factors, apart from need for cognition, served as significant independent mediators between math anxiety and performance on our Price Comparison Task. This study has important implications for how–and why–math anxiety relates to a person’s ability to accurately compare product prices. These data suggest that consumers higher in math anxiety may represent a financially vulnerable population, particularly in the context of financial tasks that are inherently mathematical.