Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 419–425

Dissecting the symbolic distance effect: Comparison and priming effects in numerical and nonnumerical orders

  • Filip Van Opstal
  • Wim Gevers
  • Wendy De Moor
  • Tom Verguts
Brief Reports

DOI: 10.3758/PBR.15.2.419

Cite this article as:
Van Opstal, F., Gevers, W., De Moor, W. et al. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (2008) 15: 419. doi:10.3758/PBR.15.2.419

Abstract

When participants are asked to compare two stimuli, responses are slower for stimuli close to each other on the relevant dimension than for stimuli further apart. Previously, it has been proposed that this comparison distance effect originates from overlap in the representation of the stimuli. This idea is generally accepted in numerical cognition, where it is assumed that representational overlap of numbers on a mental number line accounts for the effect (e.g., Cohen Kadosh et al., 2005). In contrast, others have emphasized the role of response-related processes to explain the comparison distance effect (e.g., Banks, 1977). In the present study, numbers and letters are used to show that the comparison distance effect can be dissociated from a more direct behavioral signature of representational overlap, the priming distance effect. The implication is that a comparison distance effect does not imply representational overlap. An interpretation is given in terms of a recently proposed model of quantity comparison (Verguts, Fias, & Stevens, 2005).

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Filip Van Opstal
    • 1
  • Wim Gevers
    • 1
  • Wendy De Moor
    • 1
  • Tom Verguts
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental PsychologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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