The perception of number from the separability of the stimulus: The Stroop effect revisited

Daniel Algom, Amnon Dekel, Ainat Pansky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The literature on numerical perception is reviewed from the standpoint of research on selective attention, and predictions are made concerning the dimensional interaction between physical and numerical size of numerals. We manipulated stimulus differences to make the classification of numerical value slightly better (Experiment 1), substantially better (Experiment 2), or worse (Experiments 3-4) than classification of physical size. Garner, Stroop, and redundancy effects were used to gauge the degree of interactive processing. For nearly matched discriminability, both number and size appeared separable when the dimensions were varied orthogonally, but showed Stroop interference and redundancy gain when the dimensions were varied in a correlative fashion. When mismatched, asymmetric Garner and Stroop effects emerged in orthogonal contexts along with Stroop and redundancy gains in correlative contexts. These findings define a unique relation: Numerical value and physical size were optionally separable dimensions. We conclude that a magnitude representation is not mandatory for the perception of numerals. Our conclusions offer a new perspective for understanding both numerical perception and the Stroop phenomenon itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-572
Number of pages16
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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