Are they equivalent? An examination of task variants of approximate number comparison

Yi Mou, Huilan Xiao, Bo Zhang, Yingying Jiang, Xuqing Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Nonverbal numerical ability supports individuals’ numerical information processing in everyday life and is also correlated with their learning of mathematics. This ability is typically measured with an approximate number comparison paradigm, in which participants are presented with two sets of objects and instructed to choose the numerically larger set. This paradigm has multiple task variants, where the two sets are presented in different ways (e.g., two sets are presented either simultaneously or sequentially, or two sets are presented either intermixed or separately). Despite the fact that different task variants have often been used interchangeably, it remains unclear whether these variants measure the same aspects of nonverbal numerical ability. Using a latent variable modeling approach with 270 participants (M age = 20.75 years, SD age = 2.03, 94 males), this study examined the degree to which three commonly used task variants tapped into the same construct. The results showed that a bi-factor model corresponding to the hypothesis that task variants had both commonalities and uniqueness was a better fit for the data than a single-factor model, corresponding to the hypothesis that task variants were construct equivalent. These findings suggested that task variants of approximate number comparison did not measure the same construct and cannot be used interchangeably. This study also quantified the extent to which general cognitive abilities were involved in both common and unique parts of these task variants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBehavior Research Methods
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • Approximate number comparison
  • Bi-factor model
  • Dot comparison
  • Nonverbal numerical ability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology

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