Cultural factors weaken but do not reverse left-to-right spatial biases in numerosity processing: Data from Arabic and English monoliterates and Arabic-English biliterates
Chang, Charles B.
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Citation (published version)D. LoPiccolo, C. Chang. 2021. "Cultural factors weaken but do not reverse left-to-right spatial biases in numerosity processing: Data from Arabic and English monoliterates and Arabic-English biliterates." PLoS ONE, Volume 16, Issue 12, e0261146. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0261146
Directional response biases due to a conceptual link between space and number, such as a left-to-right hand bias for increasing numerical magnitude, are known as the SNARC (Spatial-Numerical Association of Response Codes) effect. We investigated how the SNARC effect for numerosities would be influenced by reading-writing direction, task instructions, and ambient visual environment in four literate populations exemplifying opposite reading-writing cultures—namely, Arabic (right-to left script) and English (left-to-right script). Monoliterates and biliterates in Jordan and the U.S. completed a speeded numerosity comparison task to assess the directionality and magnitude of a SNARC effect in their numerosity processing. Monoliterates’ results replicated previously documented effects of reading-writing direction and task instructions: the SNARC effect found in left-to-right readers was weakened in right-to-left readers, and the left-to-right group exhibited a task-dependency effect (SNARC effect in the smaller condition, reverse SNARC effect in the larger condition). Biliterates' results showed an effect of environment: Jordan- and U.S.-based biliterates resembled their monoliterate counterparts living in the same location more than each other. These findings support the proposed Multiple Competing Codes Theory (MCCT), which posits the existence of four distinct spatial-numerical mapping codes (cardinal, ordinal, innate, culture) during numerical processing—each involved at varying levels depending on individual and task factors.
RightsCopyright: © 2021 Lopiccolo, Chang. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.