Searching for Numerical Representation: Single-Digit Numbers Do Not Influence Numerosity Estimation in Adults


There exists a robust debate surrounding the question of whether symbolic numbers inherently elicit representations of magnitude. Several studies have contributed to the notion that the mere presence of a symbolic digit activates a conceptualization of numerical quantity (Dehaene & Akhavein, 1995). These investigations have posited that the presentation of a single digit automatically triggers the representation of numerical magnitude. Conversely, an opposing viewpoint asserts that single-digit numbers do not inherently and automatically activate representations of magnitude. This present study seeks to explore whether symbolic magnitudes exert an influence on the perception of numerosity when single digits are considered not for their numerical value, but rather for their visual form. Consequently, the experiment consisted of a Stroop task where the participant had to estimate the number of digits displayed on a screen and assess the performance of adults in a numerosity estimation task. Participants were presented with small and large one-digit Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, and 7, 8, 9) as well as three distinct letters as a control condition (B, C, D), each repeated a random number of times ranging from 20 to 30, excluding 25. Their task was to estimate the number of occurrences of the symbolic representation and indicate whether it was above or below 25. The collected data suggested there was no influence of Arabic numbers in contrast to the control condition (letters). However, overestimation was observed as a common response in every subject.

Author Information
Fiorella Gago, Universidad de la República, Uruguay

Paper Information
Conference: ACP2024
Stream: Linguistics, Language & Psychology/Behavioral Science

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon