The Nature of Math Anxiety in Adults: Prevalence and Correlates


  • Sara Ann Hart
  • Colleen Marie Ganley


It is important to understand the nature of math anxiety in the general adult population, as the importance of math skills does not end when one leaves school. To this end, we present a well-powered, preregistered study of English-speaking U.S. adults describing the nature of math anxiety in this population. 1000 participants were recruited online. Math anxiety was approximately normally distributed, with the mean between “some” and “moderate”. Math anxiety was significantly negatively correlated with probability knowledge and math fluency, and significantly positively correlated with general anxiety and test anxiety. Women reported higher math anxiety than did men. Participants who had completed graduate school or had a STEM career had significantly lower levels of math anxiety than did those with less education, or non-STEM careers. Thus, we see evidence for math anxiety in U.S. adults and that it correlates with factors also reported in previous studies using younger and student populations.