Numerical Sequence Recognition: Is Familiarity or Ordinality the Primary Factor in Performance?

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Bourassa, Angelle




Lyons and Beilock (2009) suggested that the degree of ordinal association in 3-digit numerical sequences is a primary factor in the speed and accuracy with which people recognize numerical sequences. Using two experiments I examined an alternative hypothesis, specifically that having automatic access to a larger set of memorized (i.e., familiar) sequences is the determining factor in performance. Participants were shown four types of ordered stimuli, with corresponding unordered sequences. In general, highly-skilled participants responded faster than their less-skilled counterparts. All
participants were slower to reject unordered sequences that shared numbers with highly familiar sequences (e.g., 3 1 2) than with relatively unfamiliar unordered sequences (e.g., 7 1 2): this pattern is referred to as an interference effect. Participants were faster to identify familiar ascending than descending sequences, despite being equally ordered. These results support familiarity, and not ordinality, as the determining factor in sequence recognition.


Psychology - Cognitive




Carleton University

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