Cognitive Processing

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 163–173 | Cite as

Evidence of SQUARC and distance effects in a weight comparison task

  • Mario Dalmaso
  • Michele VicovaroEmail author
Research Article


Stimuli associated with large quantities are typically responded to faster with a right- than a left-side key, whereas stimuli associated with small quantities are typically responded to faster with a left- than a right-side key. This phenomenon is known as the spatial-quantity association of response codes (SQUARC) effect. Here, in two experiments, we explored whether a SQUARC effect can emerge for light versus heavy items. Participants judged whether the weight associated with a central target word, describing an animal (e.g. ‘cow’; Experiment 1) or a material (e.g. ‘iron’; Experiment 2), was lighter or heavier than the weight associated with a reference word. Responses were provided with a left- and a right-side button. Then, participants estimated the weight associated with target and reference words. In both experiments, evidence for a SQUARC effect emerged. Moreover, response times for each target word decreased with absolute difference between its rated weight and the rated weight of the reference word, in line with a distance effect. Overall, these results provide evidence of a possible spatial representation of weight.


SQUARC effect SNARC-like effect Distance effect Spatial coding Weight judgment 



We are grateful to Martin Fischer and two reviewers for valuable suggestions on a former version of the manuscript. We also thank and S. Gareth Edwards for his valuable comments. Original materials used to conduct the research will be made available upon request. Raw data can be downloaded from here:

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were approved by the Ethics Committee for Psychological Research at the University of Padova, and were in accordance with the ethical standards of the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental and Social PsychologyUniversity of PaduaPaduaItaly
  2. 2.Department of General PsychologyUniversity of PaduaPaduaItaly

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