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The impact of set size on cumulative area judgments.

Authors
  • Savelkouls, Sophie1
  • Cordes, Sara2
  • 1 Department of Psychology, Boston College, United States of America. Electronic address: [email protected] , (United States)
  • 2 Department of Psychology, Boston College, United States of America. , (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Acta psychologica
Publication Date
Oct 01, 2020
Volume
210
Pages
103163–103163
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2020.103163
PMID: 32858461
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

The ability to track number has long been considered more difficult than tracking continuous quantities. Evidence for this claim comes from work revealing that continuous properties (specifically cumulative area) influence numerical judgments, such that adults perform worse on numerical tasks when cumulative area is incongruent with number. If true, then continuous extent tracking abilities should be unimpeded by number. The aim of the present study was to determine the precision with which adults track cumulative area and to uncover the process by which they do so. Across two experiments, we presented adults with arrays of dots and asked them to judge the relative cumulative area of the displays. Participants performed worse and were slower on incongruent trials, in which the more numerous array had the smaller cumulative area. These findings suggest that number interferes with continuous quantity judgments, and that number is at least as salient as continuous variables, undermining claims in the literature that continuous properties are easier to represent, and more salient to adults. Our primary research question, however, pertained to how cumulative area representations were impacted by set size. Results revealed that the area of a single item was tracked much faster and with greater precision than the area of multiple items. However, for sets with more than one item, results revealed less accurate, yet faster responses, as set size increased, suggesting a speed-accuracy trade-off in judgments of cumulative area. Results are discussed in the context of two distinct theories regarding the process of tracking cumulative area. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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