Math anxiety and deficient executive control: does reappraisal modulate this link?

Lital Daches Cohen, Orly Rubinsten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The literature suggests an interplay between executive control functions and emotion regulation processes, with each playing a key role in math anxiety. We examined the relation between the use of two different emotion regulation strategies (reappraisal and suppression) and the ability to reduce emotional interference in high-conflict situations (i.e., executive control of attention) in cases of math anxiety. A sample of 107 adults completed emotion regulation tendencies and math anxiety questionnaires and performed a flanker task following the priming of a math-related or negative word. The findings revealed: (1) highly math-anxious individuals had difficulty controlling emotional distractions induced by math information, even as simple as math-related words, in high-conflict conditions; and (2) the tendency to use reappraisal in everyday situations was associated with math-anxious individuals’ ability to avoid heightened emotional reactions when encountering math-related (i.e., threatening) information. These findings point to the efficacy of reappraisal-focused intervention and suggest an innovative mechanism through which reappraisal reduces emotional reactions and improves performance among math-anxious individuals, indicating a new way to approach interventions for math anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-120
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of New York Academy of Sciences.


  • emotion regulation
  • executive control
  • math anxiety
  • reappraisal
  • suppression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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