Language influences number processing - A quadrilingual study

Korbinian Moeller, Samuel Shaki, Silke M. Göbel, Hans Christoph Nuerk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Reading/writing direction or number word formation influence performance even in basic numerical tasks such as magnitude comparison. However, so far the interaction of these language properties has not been evaluated systematically. In this study we tested English, German, Hebrew, and Arab participants realizing a natural 2. ×. 2 design of reading/writing direction (left-to-right vs. right-to-left) and number word formation (non-inverted vs. inverted, i.e., forty-seven vs. seven-and-forty). Symbolic number magnitude comparison was specifically influenced by the interaction of reading/writing direction and number word formation: participants from cultures where reading direction and the order of tens and units in number words are incongruent (i.e., German and Hebrew) exhibited more pronounced unit interference in place-value integration. A within-group comparison indicated that this effect was not due to differences in education. Thus, basic cultural differences in numerical cognition were driven by natural language variables and their specific combination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-155
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • Language differences
  • Magnitude comparison
  • Number processing
  • Number word inversion


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