Affect, motivation, working memory, and mathematics


Roi Cohen Kadosh & Ann Dowker

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The Oxford Handbook of Numerical Cognition

Publisher Location

New York


This article reviews the topics of affect, motivation, working memory, and their relationships to mathematics learning and performance. The underlying factors of interest, motivation, self-efficacy, and maths anxiety, as well as an approach concerning people’s beliefs about fixed versus malleable intelligence, can be grouped into an approach and an avoidance constellation of attitudes and beliefs, with opposite relationships to outcome measures of learning and mastery in maths. This article then considers the research on working memory, showing it to be central to arithmetic and maths processing, and also the principle mental component being disrupted by affective and emotional reactions during problem solving. After discussing the disruptive effects of maths anxiety, choking under pressure, and stereotype threat, the article closes with a brief consideration of how these affective disruptions might be minimized or eliminated.


Affect; Attitudes; Beliefs; Choking under pressure; Interest; Mathematics anxiety; Motivation; Self-efficacy; Stereotype threat; Working memory


Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Cognitive Behavioral Therapy | Medicine and Health Sciences | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry and Psychology




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