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Plane thinking: mental representations in number line estimation as a function of orientation, scale, and counting proficiency

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>07/2013
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number3
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)468-480
Early online date18/05/13
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Young children typically show strong biases when estimating the placement of numbers on or along a scale. Number line estimation changes in accuracy and linearity across development. However, existing research is almost entirely based on a horizontal number line, which presupposes that numbers are scaled on a horizontal plane only. We present data that broaden our understanding of number line estimation by also including vertically oriented scales. This study presented 4- to 7-year-olds with the number line estimation task presented in both horizontal and vertical orientations and on different scales. Our results suggest that children store numbers as accurately in the vertical plane as in the horizontal plane, although some developmental changes are observed. Our results highlight how even simple experimental manipulations can reveal the complexities of internal representations of number.

Bibliographic note

The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 115 (3), 2013, © ELSEVIER.