Response trajectories capture the continuous dynamics of the size congruity effect

Thomas J. Faulkenberry, Alexander Cruise, Dmitri Lavro, Samuel Shaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


In a comparison task involving numbers, the size congruity effect refers to the general finding that responses are usually faster when there is a match between numerical size and physical size (e.g., 2-8) than when there is a mismatch (e.g., 2-8). In the present study, we used computer mouse tracking to test two competing models of the size congruity effect: an early interaction model, where interference occurs at an early representational stage, and a late interactionmodel,where interference occurs as dynamic competition between response options. In three experiments, we found that the curvature of responses for incongruent trials was greater than for congruent trials. In Experiment 2we showed that this curvature effectwas reliably modulated by the numerical distance between the two stimulus numbers,with large distance pairs exhibiting a larger curvature effect than small distance pairs. In Experiment 3we demonstrated that the congruity effects persist into response execution. These findings indicate that incongruities between numerical and physical sizes are carried throughout the response process and result from competition between parallel and partially active response options, lending further support to a late interaction model of the size congruity effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-123
Number of pages10
JournalActa Psychologica
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Computer mouse tracking
  • Numerical distance effect
  • Size congruity effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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