Psychological Conceptions of Mathematics and Emotion

  • Barbara A. McDonald


Mathematics and emotion. Isn’t mathematics supposed to be nonemotional? Isn’t mathematics the essence of pure, objective, precise, untarnished thought? As educators, however, we know that many students have emotional reactions, often negative ones, to mathematics. Furthermore, it is my contention that every thought has an emotional component. The connection between cognitive and emotional processing (if they are separate processes at all) is fundamental. The participants in the Conference on Affective Issues in Mathematical Problem Solving were concerned with mathematics and emotion because they have recognized that learning is not all cognitive, that cognition and emotion are intertwined. We are attempting to understand the connection. The conference gave us an opportunity to discuss the cognitive-emotional interaction, define it for mathematics, understand the process, suggest methods for studying it, and find examples that support our views.


Learning Environment Emotional Reaction Performance Goal Mathematics Learning Psychological Conception 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

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  • Barbara A. McDonald

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