Direction counts: A comparative study of spatially directional counting biases in cultures with different reading directions

Samuel Shaki, Martin H. Fischer, Silke M. Göbel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations

Abstract

Western adults associate small numbers with left space and large numbers with right space. Where does this pervasive spatial-numerical association come from? In this study, we first recorded directional counting preferences in adults with different reading experiences (left to right, right to left, mixed, and illiterate) and observed a clear relationship between reading and counting directions. We then recorded directional counting preferences in preschoolers and elementary school children from three of these reading cultures (left to right, right to left, and mixed). Culture-specific counting biases existed before reading acquisition in children as young as 3. years and were subsequently modified by early reading experience. Together, our results suggest that both directional counting and scanning activities contribute to number-space associations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-281
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume112
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Keywords

  • Counting
  • Cross-cultural
  • Mental Number
  • Number-space association
  • Numerical cognition
  • Reading direction

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