Performance in numerical classification tasks involving either parity or magnitude judgements is quicker when small numbers are mapped onto a left-sided response and large numbers onto a right-sided response than for the opposite mapping (i.e., the spatial–numerical association of response codes or SNARC effect). Recent research by Gevers et al. [Gevers, W., Santens, S., Dhooge, E., Chen, Q., Van den Bossche, L., Fias, W., & Verguts, T. (2010). Verbal-spatial and visuospatial coding of number–space interactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 139, 180–190] suggests that this effect also arises for vocal “left” and “right” responding, indicating that verbal–spatial coding has a role to play in determining it. Another presumably verbal-based, spatial–numerical mapping phenomenon is the linguistic markedness association of response codes (MARC) effect whereby responding in parity tasks is quicker when odd numbers are mapped onto left-sided responses and even numbers onto right-sided responses. A recent account of both the SNARC and MARC effects is based on the polarity correspondence principle [Proctor, R. W., & Cho, Y. S. (2006). Polarity correspondence: A general principle for performance of speeded binary classification tasks. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 416–442]. This account assumes that stimulus and response alternatives are coded along any number of dimensions in terms of – and + polarities with quicker responding when the polarity codes for the stimulus and the response correspond. In the present study, even–odd parity judgements were made using either “left” and “right” or “bad” and “good” vocal responses. Results indicated that a SNARC effect was indeed present for the former type of vocal responding, providing further evidence for the sufficiency of the verbal–spatial coding account for this effect. However, the decided lack of an analogous SNARC-like effect in the results for the latter type of vocal responding provides an important constraint on the presumed generality of the polarity correspondence account. On the other hand, the presence of robust MARC effects for “bad” and “good” but not “left” and “right” vocal responses is consistent with the view that such effects are due to conceptual associations between semantic codes for odd–even and bad–good (but not necessarily left–right).

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Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Department of Psychology

Leth-Steensen, C, & Citta, R. (Richie). (2016). Bad–good constraints on a polarity correspondence account for the spatial–numerical association of response codes (SNARC) and markedness association of response codes (MARC) effects. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69(3), 482–494. doi:10.1080/17470218.2015.1055283