Maths anxiety does not moderate the link between spatial and maths ability
Spatial ability (SA) is known to be closely related to mathematical ability (Tosto et al., 2014). Maths anxiety (MA) has been shown to affect both mathematical and spatial ability (Maloney, 2011). The present study investigated the relationship between maths performance and spatial ability, as well as the effects of MA and gender on the association between them. General cognitive ability and trait anxiety were added as control variables. Data were collected from 146 twins (32% males) aged 17-33. Maths performance was measured with Problem Verification Task (PVT). SA was measured with Mental rotation task. MA was measured with sMARS questionnaire. General cognitive ability was measured with Raven's matrices. Trait anxiety was measured with Spielberger anxiety rating scale. There were no correlations between SA and maths performance, except a negative correlation between SA and PVT reaction time variance. MA did not moderate the association between SA and maths performance. Interestingly, the interaction term between trait anxiety and SA was significant as a predictor for PVT reaction time. Posthoc analysis showed that higher spatial ability was associated with lower reaction time in PVT for high trait anxiety individuals only. Neither main effects of gender and maths anxiety, nor the interaction term between them were significant while predicting spatial ability. Altogether, our results indicate that the interplay between anxiety and mathematical cognition is complex and requires further research.