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Description: Despite considerable academic interest in the construct of statistics anxiety, we know little about how it operates, or even what it is. Statistics anxiety is said to be distinct from mathematics anxiety, but existing evidence suffers methodological limitations and relies heavily upon correlations that cannot take subscale specificity into account. Yet, if statistics and mathematics anxieties are the same constructs (i.e., have fallen prey to the jangle fallacy), the statistics anxiety field could draw upon this advanced knowledge and extrapolate considerable empirical and theoretical insights. The present study addresses this, examining the extent to which statistics anxiety (as measured by the Statistics Anxiety Rating Scale; STARS) and mathematics anxiety (as measured by the Revised Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale; R-MARS) overlap. Across three core analyses, each conducted in two samples (n = 489 and n = 245), we consistently evidence strong construct overlap. The factor analyses showed items from the scales did not load onto statistics or mathematics anxiety specific factors, the latent profile analyses showed it was very rare (< 2%) for an individual to have statistics anxiety but not mathematics anxiety, and our experimental studies revealed that individuals with statistics anxiety did not experience a greater increase in state anxiety when taking a statistics test than a mathematics test, or vice-versa. Counter to the narrative, our results suggest a jangle fallacy. Further research is needed, but statisitics anxiety researchers must be careful not to include both scales in their analyses to avoid collinearity issues and to consider that findings using these scales are equivalent.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International


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