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13-11-2019 | Original Article | Uitgave 2/2021

Psychological Research 2/2021

Symbol grounding of number words in the subitization range

Psychological Research > Uitgave 2/2021
Mia Šetić Beg, Jakov Čičko, Dražen Domijan
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In three experiments, we explored whether number words are grounded in a nonsymbolic representation of numerosity. We used a sentence–picture verification task, where participants are required to check whether the concept given in a sentence corresponds to the subsequently presented object. We concurrently manipulated numerical congruency by orthogonally varying the number word attached to the concept and the quantity of objects. The number words and numerosities varied from one to four in Experiment 1 and from six to nine in Experiment 2. In Experiment 3, we employed number words six and eight with the constraint that, in the incongruent condition, a constant number-to-numerosity ratio of 2:1 was used. In Experiment 1, we found that participants were faster and more efficient when concept-object matches were accompanied by numerical congruency relative to incongruency. On the other hand, no such difference was observed in Experiments 2 and 3 for numbers falling outside of the subitization range. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that number words from one to four are grounded in a nonsymbolic representation of the size of small sets.

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