Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Committee Member

Mark H. Ashcraft

Number of Pages



Previous studies have examined the effects of math anxiety on working memory and performance. It has been shown that having a high level of math anxiety not only decreases performance, but also interferes with working memory such that the anxiety competes for working memory resources, decreasing the amount of working memory resources available to work on a math task. Previous research has focused on the semantic memory approach, i.e., testing people on what they already know. The current study took this research one step further and looked at learning, specifically stimulus learning, in the context of math anxiety. A well studied lab task, the true/false verification task, was adapted to study learning on the part of individuals who vary in their math anxiety. Some of the addition problems were shown only once to participants while other addition problems were shown nine times. One prediction of this study was that low math anxious individuals would be able to learn more mathematical information across blocks of trials than high math anxious individuals, and would demonstrate this on a recall test of incidental learning after three blocks of making true/false judgments to simple addition problems. Although this learning effect between high and low math anxious individuals was not found, another interesting effect was discovered with regard to the learning recall task. High math anxious participants learned more of the false answers with large splits than the low math anxious participants. This was an unexpected finding, and one inference that could be drawn from this is that low math anxious participants are not looking at the false problems with the large splits long enough to encode them, whereas the high math anxious individuals may be looking at the problem longer, unable to quickly judge it as false.


Anxiety; Context; Learning; Math

Controlled Subject

Cognitive psychology

File Format


File Size

1.04 MB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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