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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

Published

Journal publication date07/2013
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Journal number3
Volume115
Number of pages13
Pages468-480
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

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 4-7-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 number as accurately in the vertical as 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.