Researchers reported on Monday that math skills only bring certain benefits in life when paired with confidence in those skills. Their work has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In their paper, they show that math skills offer real benefits in terms of financial stability and health, but a lack of confidence in one’s abilities negates this benefit.
Directed by Ellen Peters, Ph.D., a science communications professor at the University of Oregon, the team wanted to see how math skills and confidence affected a self-reported measure – personal finances – as well as one that couldn’t be overstated in a survey. self-reported. – the progression of lupus. In two studies, the team concluded that the interaction between math skills and confidence in their math skills significantly affected these two outcomes in similar ways.
“In both studies, participants who had high numerical ability and high numerical confidence did the best. They reported more positive financial results and they were the least likely to need additional treatment for very active disease, ”Peters writing on Twitter.
“Those with equally high confidence but low ability (the overconfident) had the worst personal finance and health outcomes,” she said. add.
How math skills and confidence relate to finances
In the first study, a survey of 4,572 people showed that those with good math skills had better financial results (less debt, no payday loans, etc.). But for people with the same skill level who were not confident in their abilities, this benefit was canceled. Likewise, people who are low-skilled and very confident in their skills have also experienced poorer financial results.
And even though these two results are both based on a set of unmatched attributes, the results have quite different explanations.
In the first case, write the study authors, people with good math skills who doubt themselves may hesitate to be their household financial planner because they mistakenly believe that they cannot. not handle it. This leads to poor planning for the future and poor financial results.
In the second case, people who are bad at math but are confident in their math skills are prone to make mistakes, but they nevertheless continue to walk forward with enthusiasm, not realizing that they have made serious mistakes. These people, the authors write, may refuse help from others. This unwarranted trust can lead to poor financial planning, one that may even surprise them.
How math skills and confidence relate to health
In a second study, 91 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus were tested on their math skills and confidence, and their disease progression was tracked in their medical records. It may seem that there is no clear connection between a person’s math skills and the progression of their disease, but the authors write that there are actually many ways that being good with numbers can. be important to someone with a chronic autoimmune disease:
… Some interventions and changes require objective numeracy – for example, to understand the risks and benefits of drugs, to titrate drugs correctly (eg, prednisone), and to make good health insurance and provider choices. Other interventions and lifestyle changes require persisting with the same digital task over time, such as adhering to multiple timed medications, navigating frequent treatment changes, adopting healthy behaviors, and attending appointments.
Just as with the first group, patients with lupus showed similar effects regarding the interaction between math skills and self-confidence. Patients with good numerical skills and high confidence in their abilities showed the slowest disease progression, and those with low math skills and low confidence showed more severe disease outcomes.
And just like in the Financial Planning Survey, those with mismatched skills and confidence performed worse.
Calculus and old age
With medical science enabling humans to live more and more, effective financial planning will play an increasingly important role in the quality of life we experience in old age. As noted in this study, a person’s health and financial security later in life can depend heavily on their ability to manage their finances.
Unfortunately, an estimate 73 million Americans are innumerable – the math version of illiterates – meaning they lack the math skills to manage their money.
Fortunately, this research shows that skills aren’t the only part of this equation. If there are countless of you, having a clear idea of your abilities may give you the chance to enlist the help of a family member or a professional financial planner. In this case, knowing the limits of your skills may be the greatest of all.
Abstract: People often laugh and say that they are “not good at math”. What is not recognized, however, is that about a third of American adults are probably too numerous to function effectively in financial and healthcare environments. Perhaps two digital skills are important – objective numeracy (the ability to ‘make the numbers work’ correctly; like literacy but with numbers) and digital self-efficacy (confidence that provides commitment and persistence in digital tasks). We felt, however, that achieving the benefits of objective numeracy should hinge on digital confidence. Specifically, among the more objective people having more digital confidence (vs less) should lead to better results as they persist in digital tasks and have the skills to support digital success. Among the less objective people, however, having more (vs. less) digital trust should hurt results, as they also persist, but make unrecognized mistakes. Two studies were designed to test the generalizability of this hypothetical interaction. We report a secondary analysis of financial results in a diverse US dataset and a primary analysis of disease activity in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. In both areas, the best results appeared to require numerical computational skills and the persistence of numerical confidence. People who are “incompatible” (high ability / low confidence or low ability / high confidence) had the worst results. For example, among the most numerically gifted patients, only 7% of the most numerically confident patients predicted disease activity indicating that they needed additional treatment, compared with 31% of the patients with higher numeracy. high numeracy / low confidence and 44% of patients with low numeracy / high confidence. the patients. Our work emphasizes that having 1 of these skills (objective calculation or numerical self-efficacy) does not guarantee superior results.