The role of parity, physical size, and magnitude in numerical cognition: The SNARC effect revisited

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Abstract

People indicate the physical size or the parity status of small numbers faster by a left-hand key and those of larger numbers by a right-hand key. Because magnitude information is not required for successful performance in these tasks, the presence of a number-space association (the SNARC effect) has been taken to indicate the automatic activation of numerical magnitude in all tasks with numerals. In order to test this account, in a series of five experiments, we derived two consensual markers of automatic activation of irrelevant numerical magnitude, the size congruity effect (for judgments of physical size), and the Garner effect (for judgments of parity). Both markers were found independent of the SNARC effect. Consequently, we question the traditional explanation of the SNARC effect and offer an alternative account in terms of a highly overlearned stimulus-response loop.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-155
Number of pages13
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Volume71
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2009

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