Individuation vs. Aggregation Strategies for Processing Number Sets

Patrick CravalhoKent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA
Bradley MorrisKent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA
Christopher WasKent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA
Amy MasnickHofstra University, Hempstead, New York, USA

Abstract

How do people remember individual values from a set of numbers? Previous research has demonstrated seemingly conflicting findings. In some tasks, participants implicitly aggregate number sets (Morris & Masnick, in press), but in other tasks, participants recognized individual values, even for sets of eight, at levels greater than chance (Cravalho, Morris, Was, & Masnick, 2013). In the current paper, we investigated the possibility that these differences are driven by the strategies participants use to achieve different processing goals. The current paper describes three experiments in which participants were given the goal of correctly recognizing individual numbers presented in number sets of varying sizes (four, six, and eight). The results suggest that participants used individuation strategies in which they attended to diagnostic information while encoding numbers (e.g., the ones column in a set of numbers) and that we can explicitly individuate sets larger than four with the use of effective strategies.

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