Statistics and mathematics anxiety in social science students: some interesting parallels

Br J Educ Psychol. 1991 Nov;61 ( Pt 3):319-28. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8279.1991.tb00989.x.


This study illuminates some interesting parallels between statistics anxiety and mathematics anxiety in social science students. Parallel to what is confirmed for mathematics anxiety, two factors were observed to underly statistics anxiety scores, namely, statistics test anxiety and content anxiety. The study revealed modest though significant correlations between student attributes and the two confirmed dimensions of statistics anxiety. Furthermore, parallel to the inverse correlation reported for mathematics anxiety and maths course performance, statistics anxiety correlated negatively with high school matriculation scores in maths as well as self perceptions of maths abilities. These data lend support to the hypothesis that aversive prior experiences with mathematics, prior poor achievement in maths, and a low sense of maths self-efficacy are meaningful antecedent correlates of statistics anxiety and thus lend some credence to the "deficit" interpretation of statistics anxiety.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Attitude
  • Curriculum
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mathematics*
  • Social Sciences / education*
  • Statistics as Topic / education*