What is bigger, an elephant or a mouse? This question can be answered without seeing the two animals, since these objects elicit conceptual magnitude. How is an object conceptual magnitude processed? It was suggested that conceptual magnitude is automatically processed; namely, irrelevant conceptual magnitude can affect performance when comparing physical magnitudes. The current study further examined this question and aimed to expand the understanding of automaticity of conceptual magnitude. Two different objects were presented and participants were asked to decide which object was larger on the screen (physical magnitude) or in the real world (conceptual magnitude), in separate blocks. By creating congruent (the conceptually larger object was physically larger) and incongruent (the conceptually larger object was physically smaller) pairs of stimuli it was possible to examine the automatic processing of each magnitude. A significant congruity effect was found for both magnitudes. Furthermore, quartile analysis revealed that the congruity was affected similarly by processing time for both magnitudes. These results suggest that the processing of conceptual and physical magnitudes is automatic to the same extent. The results support recent theories suggested that different types of magnitude processing and representation share the same core system.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) / ERC Grant agreement n° 295644. We thank Dr. Yoav Kessler from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev for his contribution.
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