The influence of sex on the relations among spatial ability, math anxiety and math performance

Yehudit Danan, Sarit Ashkenazi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A large body of research has found stronger math anxiety in females and suggests that inferior spatial abilities (or attributes towards spatial abilities) in females compared to males are the origin of sex differences in math anxiety. Purpose: To fully explore the complex relationship among math anxiety, spatial abilities, math performance and sex differences, the current study examined spatial skills, working memory skills, math anxiety, and self-efficacy as predictors of math performance. Basic procedures: Participating in the study were 89 undergraduate Israeli students (44 males and 45 females). Main findings: The result showed sex differences in a few domains: math anxiety was higher in females compared to males, males outperformed females in number line performance and spatial skills. The relationships among spatial abilities, math performance, and math anxiety were stronger in males than in females. By contrast, the relationship between math self-efficacy and performance was stronger in females compared to males. Conclusions: This finding demonstrated fundamental differences between the sexes, even with similar performances in curriculum-based assessments.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number100196
Pages (from-to)100196
JournalTrends in Neuroscience and Education
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022


  • Math anxiety
  • Mental rotation
  • Self-efficacy
  • Sex differences
  • Visuospatial working memory


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