Adults (N = 72) estimated the location of target numbers on number lines that varied in numerical range (i.e., typical range 0-10,000 or atypical range 0-7,000) and spatial orientation (i.e., the 0 endpoint on the left [traditional] or on the right [reversed]). Eye-tracking data were used to assess strategy use. Participants made meaningful first fixations on the line, with fixations occurring around the origin for low target numbers and around the midpoint and endpoint for high target numbers. On traditional direction number lines, participants used left-to-right scanning and showed a leftward bias; these effects were reduced for the reverse direction number lines. Participants made fixations around the midpoint for both ranges but were less accurate when estimating target numbers around the midpoint on the 7,000-range number line. Thus, participants are using the internal benchmark (i.e., midpoint) to guide estimates on atypical range number lines, but they have difficulty calculating the midpoint, leading to less accurate estimates. In summary, both range and direction influenced strategy use and accuracy, suggesting that both numerical and spatial processes influence number line estimation.

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Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006)
Department of Cognitive Science

Di Lonardo, S.M. (Sabrina Michelle), Huebner, M.G. (Matthew G.), Newman, K. (Katherine), & LeFevre, J.-A. (2020). Fixated in unfamiliar territory: Mapping estimates across typical and atypical number lines. Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006), 73(2), 279–294. doi:10.1177/1747021819881631