The mental representations of fractions: adults' same-different judgments

Florence Gabriel, Denes Szucs, Alain Content

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Two experiments examined whether the processing of the magnitude of fractions is global or componential. Previously, some authors concluded that adults process the numerators and denominators of fractions separately and do not access the global magnitude of fractions. Conversely, others reported evidence suggesting that the global magnitude of fractions is accessed. We hypothesized that in a fraction matching task, participants automatically extract the magnitude of the components but that the activation of the global magnitude of the whole fraction is only optional or strategic. Participants carried out same/different judgment tasks. Two different tasks were used: a physical matching task and a numerical matching task. Pairs of fractions were presented either simultaneously or sequentially. Results showed that participants only accessed the representation of the global magnitude of fractions in the numerical matching task. The mode of stimulus presentation did not affect the processing of fractions. The present study allows a deeper understanding of the conditions in which the magnitude of fractions is mentally represented by using matching tasks and two different modes of presentation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberArticle 385
    Pages (from-to)Article: 385
    Number of pages6
    JournalFrontiers in Psychology
    Issue numberJUL
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • Fractions
    • Magnitude processing
    • Numerical cognition
    • Same-different task
    • Symbolic distance effect


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