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23-02-2018 | Original Article | Uitgave 1/2020

Psychological Research 1/2020

Finger-counting habits, not finger movements, predict simple arithmetic problem solving

Psychological Research > Uitgave 1/2020
Kyle Morrissey, Darcy Hallett, Rutanya Wynes, Jingmei Kang, Ming Han


Previous research in embodied mathematical cognition has found differences between those who start counting on their left hand and those who start counting on the right hand. However, if starting hand is a finger-embodied effect, then finger-specific interference may affect these differences between left and right starters. Furthermore, cultures that demonstrate different finger-counting habits may also be differently affected by this interference. In the current study, a total of 66 Canadians and 60 Chinese participants completed a single/dual-task paradigm and were also assessed on their starting hand for counting. The primary task was to verbally answer simple arithmetic problems, while the dual task was to either sequentially tap their fingers or their foot. Contrary to predictions, a specific finger-movement interference pattern that had previously been reported was not evident in this study, despite a much larger sample. Nevertheless, Canadians left starters outperformed right starters for every operation type, which may be further evidence of individual differences in the lateralization of arithmetic processes. Derived from a combination of a replication, a conceptual replication, and a cross-cultural comparison, this investigation suggests that embodied effects in the published literature are in need of both independent replication as well as investigation of individual differences. This study also further validates the differences between left and right starters, and suggests that more research is needed to understand the influence of embodied cognition on mathematical understanding.

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