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Does the size really determine the size congruency effect? The role of height in the perception of quantity

56.401, Tuesday, 20-May, 2:45 pm - 6:45 pm, Banyan Breezeway
Session: Spatial vision: Models

Liat Goldfarb1; 1E.J.S Brain Research Center, University of Haifa

It has been suggested that the ability to perceive quantity depends on size perception. This can be demonstrated by the robust size congruency effect in which RT for deciding which digit is numerically larger, is faster for congruent size-numerical pairs ( e.g., 1 9) than incongruent pairs (e.g., 1 9) (e.g.: Besner & Coltheart, 1979). In previous size congruency experiments, the change in the size dimension was confounded with changes on the height and width dimensions. Hence, this study explores if indeed the size determines the size congruency effect. Do two digits that are equal in size but with different width and height produce a similar congruency effect and if so which dimension (height or width) is actually associated with quantity? Since numbers are arranged horizontally in a line, arranged on the width dimension, then wider digits might be associated with larger numbers. Alternatively, some researchers (e.g.: Piaget & Inhelder, 1974) suggested a developmental primitive mechanism in which higher objects are perceived as containing more substance. The current study included two experiments in which two equal size digits were presented and participants were asked to decide which digit is numerically larger. In Experiment 1, each digit was created from bricks that differed from each other in the height and width dimensions. In Experiment 2, each digit was embedded in a taller or wider glass figure. The result revealed that although the digits were equal in size, a congruency effect was observed so that a congruent pair emerged when the numerically larger digit was also higher (Exp 1) or was embedded in a taller glass (Exp 2). The relationship between quantity and the mechanism that perceives the height (and not the width) dimension is further discussed.

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