It is widely agreed that irrelevant numerical values are automatically activated. However, automatic and intentional activations may give rise to different numerical representations. We examined processing of symbolic and non-symbolic (i.e., numerosity) representations asking whether they differ in automatic and intentional processing. Participants were presented with two-dimensional displays containing repetitions of a digit and were asked to report, in different blocks, whether the digit or numerosity was smaller or larger than 5. Incongruent trials differed either in laterality between the relevant and irrelevant dimensions (i.e., the location of both dimensions in reference to the midpoint 5) or in numerical distance between dimensions. Congruency affected performance regardless of symbolic or non-symbolic presentation. For incongruent trials, laterality (not distance) affected performance, again regardless of presentation. This implies that automaticity does not mean similar processing of relevant and irrelevant dimensions. Specifically, the relevant dimension is processed elaborately whereas the irrelevant dimension is processed crudely.
- Distance effect
- Laterality effect
- Numerical value
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology