Food Engineering

Lower-level math skills mean less understanding on GMO issues, study says

'Math anxiety' led to a decrease in comprehension of statistics about genetically modified foods, researchers say.

February 28, 2014

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Researchers at Penn State University found that lower levels of math skill and feelings of anxiety related to math may be less able to understand messages about genetically modified foods and other health information. So-called 'math anxiety' led to decreased comprehension among those who read statistics in a message about GMOs. 

"Math anxiety, which happens when people are worried or are concerned about using math or statistics, leads to less effort and decreases the ability to do math," says Roxanne Parrott, distinguised professor of Communication Arts and Sciences and Health Policy and Administration. "Math anxiety also has been found to impair working memory."

Interestingly, researchers found math anxiety increased for people with high math skills when presented with a message about GMO foods, although the anxiety did not significantly affect the understanding of the message. To read more, click here.