Language effects in magnitude comparison: Small, but not irrelevant

Nuerk, Hans-Christoph and Weger, Ulrich W. and Willmes, K. (2005) Language effects in magnitude comparison: Small, but not irrelevant. Brain and Language, 92 (3). pp. 262-277. ISSN 0093-934X . (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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It is assumed that number magnitude comparison is performed by assessing magnitude representation on a single analog mental number line. However, we have observed a unit-decade-compatibility effect in German which is inconsistent with this assumption (Nuerk, Weger, I Willmes, 2001). Incompatible magnitude comparisons in which decade and unit comparisons lead to different responses (e.g., 3752 for which 3 < 5, but 7 > 2) are slower and less accurately responded to than compatible trials in which decade and unit comparisons lead to the same response (e.g., 4257, for which 4 < 5 and 2 < 7). As overall distance was held constant, a single holistic magnitude representation could not account for this compatibility effect. However, because of the inversion property of the corresponding German two-digit number words ("einundzwanzig" < one-and-twenty >), the language-generality of the effect is questionable. We have therefore examined the compatibility effect with native English speakers. We were able to replicate the compatibility effect using Arabic notation. Thus, the compatibility effect is not language-specific. However, in cross-linguistic analyses language-specific modulations were observed not only for number words but also for Arabic numbers. The constraints imposed on current models by the verbal mediation of Arabic number comparison are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: mental number line; number comparison; distance effect; language specificity; abstract semantic representation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: C.A. Simms
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2008 13:47
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2014 14:18
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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