Representations of the magnitudes of fractions.

Date of Original Version




PubMed ID


Abstract or Description

We tested whether adults can use integrated, analog, magnitude representations to compare the values of fractions. The only previous study on this question concluded that even college students cannot form such representations and instead compare fraction magnitudes by representing numerators and denominators as separate whole numbers. However, atypical characteristics of the presented fractions might have provoked the use of atypical comparison strategies in that study. In our 3 experiments, university and community college students compared more balanced sets of single-digit and multi-digit fractions and consistently exhibited a logarithmic distance effect. Thus, adults used integrated, analog representations, akin to a mental number line, to compare fraction magnitudes. We interpret differences between the past and present findings in terms of different stimuli eliciting different solution strategies.




Published In

Journal of experimental psychology: Human perception and performance, 36, 5, 1227-1238.