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Spatial attention shifts contribute to the size congruity effect

Abstract

The size congruity effect in a numerical Stroop task shows that magnitude judgments of two numbers are faster and more accurate when the numerically larger number also appears in a physically larger size, indicating the interaction between numerical and physical magnitudes. It has recently been suggested that spatial shifts of attention between the two numbers may contribute to the size congruity effect. However, a complete line of evidence for the attentional attribution to the size congruity effect remains to be established. Therefore, the present study aimed to provide further demonstrations for the idea that spatial shifts of attention contribute to the size congruity effect during magnitude judgments regarding either the numerical or physical dimension of two numbers. Participants were sequentially or simultaneously presented with a pair of single-digit Arabic numbers whose numerical and physical magnitudes varied independently. They were instructed to perform a magnitude judgment regarding the numerical value or physical size of the paired numbers. Across three experiments, we consistently found that the size congruity effect was reduced or eliminated when number pairs were presented sequentially compared to when they were presented simultaneously. Because in the sequential presentation mode the paired numbers were successively presented at central fixation and therefore spatial attention shifts should be completely precluded by the central presentation of number stimuli, the present findings support the notion that spatial shifts of attention between numbers in the simultaneous presentation mode play an important role in generating the size congruity effect for both numerical and physical tasks.

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Funding

This research was supported by the Provincial Dominate Characteristic Discipline of Hangzhou Normal University (grant number 19JYXK004).

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Correspondence to Yi Pan.

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Wang, A., Pan, Y. Spatial attention shifts contribute to the size congruity effect. Atten Percept Psychophys 83, 2795–2805 (2021). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-021-02350-w

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Keywords

  • Number
  • Magnitude
  • Attention
  • Size congruity
  • Numerical Stroop