With English-language readers in an experiment requiring pairwise comparative judgments of the sizes of animals, the nature of the association between the magnitudes of the animal pairs and the left or right sides of response (i.e., the SNARC effect) was reversed depending on whether the participants had to choose either the smaller or the larger member of the pair. In contrast, such a dependence of the direction of the SNARC effect on the form of the comparative instructions was not evident for pairwise comparisons of numerical magnitude made by a similar group of participants. Furthermore, exactly the same configuration of findings was obtained for a single group of Israeli-Palestinian right-to-left reading and writing participants, except that the spatial direction of the SNARC effects for both the animal-size and number comparisons were completely reversed. In a final experiment with English readers, SNARC effects paralleling those for the animal-size comparisons were obtained for pairwise comparative judgments involving the just-learned height relations between 6 imaginary individuals. As will be discussed, such results serve to extend the generality of the SNARC effect far beyond the current modal view that it simply reflects culturally influenced, long-term learned associations between numerical magnitudes and the locations on a fixed mental number line. The implications that these results have for both the Proctor and Cho (2006) polarity correspondence view and the Gevers, Verguts, Reynvoet, Caessens, and Fias (2006) computational model of the SNARC effect will also discussed.

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Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Department of Psychology

Shaki, S. (Samuel), Petrusic, W.M. (William M.), & Leth-Steensen, C. (2012). SNARC effects with numerical and non-numerical symbolic comparative judgments: Instructional and cultural dependencies. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 38(2), 515–530. doi:10.1037/a0026729