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Mental representation of equivalence and order

von Hecker, Ulrich ORCID:, Muller, Elisabeth, Dill, Stefan Kirian and Klauer, Karl Christoph 2023. Mental representation of equivalence and order. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 76 (12) , pp. 2779-2793. 10.1177/17470218231153974

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With mental models based on relational information, the present research shows that the semantics expressed by the relation can determine structural properties of the constructed model. In particular, we demonstrate a reversal of the classical, well-replicated Symbolic Distance Effect (SDE), as a function of relational semantics. The classical SDE shows that responses are more accurate, and faster, the wider the distance between queried elements on a mentally constructed rank order. We replicate this effect in a study using a relation that expresses a rank hierarchy (“older than”, Experiment 4). In contrast, we obtain a clear reversal of the same effect for accuracy data when the relation expresses a number of equivalence classes (“is from the same city”, Experiments 1 - 3). In Experiment 3 we find clear evidence of a reversed SDE for accuracy and latency in the above standard condition, and flat curves of means, across pair distances, for accuracy and latency in a condition that makes equivalence classes salient from the beginning. We discuss these findings in the context of a process model of equivalence class formation based on learned piecemeal information.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 1747-0218
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 January 2023
Date of Acceptance: 13 January 2023
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2023 13:42

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