The spatial association of numbers and mathematical symbols

Marzola, Gianluca (2023) The spatial association of numbers and mathematical symbols, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Philosophy, science, cognition, and semiotics (pscs), 35 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/10546.
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The "SNARC effect" refers to the finding that people respond faster to small numbers with the left hand and to large numbers with the right hand. This effect is often explained by hypothesizing that numbers are represented from left to right in ascending order (Mental Number Line). However, the SNARC effect may not depend on quantitative information, but on other factors such as the order in which numbers are often represented from left to right in our culture. Four experiments were performed to test this hypothesis. In the first experiment, the concept of spatial association was extended to nonnumeric mathematical symbols: the minus and plus symbols. These symbols were presented as fixation points in a spatial compatibility paradigm. The results demonstrated an opposite influence of the two symbols on the target stimulus: the minus symbol tends to favor the target presented on the left, while the plus symbol the target presented on the right, demonstrating that spatial association can emerge in the absence of a numerical context. In the last three experiments, the relationship between quantity and order was evaluated using normal numbers and mirror numbers. Although mirror numbers denote quantity, they are not encountered in a left-to-right spatial organization. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants performed a magnitude classification task with mirror and normal numbers presented together (Experiment 1) or separately (Experiment 2). In Experiment 3, participants performed a new task in which quantity information processing was not required: the mirror judgment task. The results show that participants access the quantity of both normal and mirror numbers, but only the normal numbers are spatially organized from left to right. In addition, the physical similarity between the numbers, used as a predictor variable in the last three experiments, showed that the physical characteristics of numbers influenced participants' reaction times.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Marzola, Gianluca
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
numerical cognition, SNARC effect, distance effect, mirror numbers, spatial numerica association
Data di discussione
17 Febbraio 2023

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