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05-12-2014 | Original Article

Spatial coding of object typical size: evidence for a SNARC-like effect

Auteurs: Roberta Sellaro, Barbara Treccani, Remo Job, Roberto Cubelli

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 6/2015

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Abstract

The present study aimed to assess whether the representation of the typical size of objects can interact with response position codes in two-choice bimanual tasks, and give rise to a SNARC-like effect (faster responses when the representation of the typical size of the object to which the target stimulus refers corresponds to response side). Participants performed either a magnitude comparison task (in which they were required to judge whether the target was smaller or larger than a reference stimulus; Experiment 1) or a semantic decision task (in which they had to classify the target as belonging to either the category of living or non-living entities; Experiment 2). Target stimuli were pictures or written words referring to either typically large and small animals or inanimate objects. In both tasks, participants responded by pressing a left- or right-side button. Results showed that, regardless of the to-be-performed task (magnitude comparison or semantic decision) and stimulus format (picture or word), left responses were faster when the target represented typically small-sized entities, whereas right responses were faster for typically large-sized entities. These results provide evidence that the information about the typical size of objects is activated even if it is not requested by the task, and are consistent with the idea that objects’ typical size is automatically spatially coded, as has been proposed to occur for number magnitudes. In this representation, small objects would be on the left and large objects would be on the right. Alternative interpretations of these results are also discussed.
Voetnoten
1
It must be underlined that there are data that are inconsistent with the idea of a common processing system for different magnitudes. For example, Leibovich, Diesendruck, Rubinsten, and Henik (2013) obtained results suggesting that the representation of numbers may be different from that of other magnitudes.
 
2
The finding that the spatial representation of conceptual size is not functionally involved in magnitude comparison and semantic decision (i.e., broadly speaking, in object recognition) does not rule out that spatial coding occurs automatically. One may still think that magnitude spatial representation is a mandatory process. However, such a process, having no role in object recognition, may appear epiphenomenal in nature, that is, this finding would undermine the hypothesis according to which space is a core feature of magnitude representation (or, more in general, of stimulus semantics).
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Spatial coding of object typical size: evidence for a SNARC-like effect
Auteurs
Roberta Sellaro
Barbara Treccani
Remo Job
Roberto Cubelli
Publicatiedatum
05-12-2014
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 6/2015
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-014-0636-7

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