The interplay between math performances, spatial abilities, and affective factors: The role of task

Sarit Ashkenazi*, Hagar Velner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many studies have suggested that cognitive and affective abilities (such as math anxiety- MA and math self-efficacy) explain individual differences in math. Purpose: The present study explores the interplay between MA, math self-efficacy, spatial anxiety and spatial abilities in explaining individual differences on two complex math tasks. Procedures: Ninety-three college students took part in the experiment and completed 3 emotional questionnaires, in addition to 2 math tasks and a mental rotation task. Findings: The interplay between math performances and cognitive and affective factors is related to task demand. MA and spatial abilities affected math performances directly, regardless of task. Spatial anxiety had only an indirect effect on math performances via MA, regardless of task. Conclusions: These finding suggest that for math performances, contrary to MA, real spatial abilities rather than perceived spatial anxiety play a significant role in explaining individual differences. Hence, the present result dissociates cognitive and emotional factors.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number100211
JournalTrends in Neuroscience and Education
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
There is no external funding for the current project

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier GmbH


  • Individual differences
  • Math anxiety
  • Math self-efficacy
  • Mathematics
  • Spatial anxiety
  • Spatial skills


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