The goal of this research was to explore the relations of personality, self-concept, learning strategies and mathematics anxiety in elementary school pupils. The sample consisted of 693 8th grade pupils from 36 Croatian elementary schools. We administered Big Five Inventory (John & Srivastava, 1999) to assess personality dimensions of neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. SDQ II (Marsh, 1990) was administered to assess self-concept variables, and a set of scales measuring self-regulatory learning strategies was administered to assess self-handicapping, defensive pessimism and external attribution of failure (Lončarić, 2014). Mathematics anxiety was measured with the adapted Scale for assessing math anxiety (Arambašić et al., 2005). With respect to the well-documented gender differences in mathematics anxiety, we performed separate hierarchical regression analyses for each gender to test the predictive power of personality, self-concept and defensive motivational strategies in explaining the variance of mathematics anxiety. Results indicate that the set of predictor variables explained significant amount of variance in both genders, having the stronger predictive power for girls (R square = .54) compared to boys (R square = .38). Personality, self- concept and motivational strategies are all related to math anxiety. However, a somewhat different pattern of relations emerged with respect to gender. While math self-concept is significantly negatively related to math anxiety in both genders, personality and motivational strategies have different relations to boys’ and girls’ math anxiety. In boys, math anxiety is related to low agreeableness and the use of external attribution of failure, while in girls it is predicted by higher neuroticism and defensive pessimism. Our results indicate that maladaptive patterns of academic beliefs, motivations and behavior related to mathematics in Croatian pupils are to some extent gender- specific, thus calling for specific intervention strategies tailored for boys and girls. |