Exploring the Mental Number Line Via the Size Congruity Effect

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Description: To address the ongoing debate about the origins of the size effect (faster comparison time for smaller than larger numbers, given a fixed intrapair distance), an indication of automatic number processing was searched for. Participants performed a quantity comparison task in which they had to decide which of two sketched cups contained more liquid, while ignoring the number superimposed on each cup. In the congruent condition, the larger number appeared on the cup containing more liquid, while in the incongruent condition the larger number appeared on the cup containing less liquid. The size effect was found in a numerical comparison task, while in the quantity comparison task the size congruity effect decreased as the magnitude of the irrelevant numbers increased. Together, these results suggest that the size effect reflects a basic feature of the mental number line. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
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