Article: article from journal or magazin.
Identifying strategies in arithmetic with the operand recognition paradigm : a matter of switch cost ?
Journal of Experimental Psychology : Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Determining adults' and children's strategies in mental arithmetic constitutes a central issue in the domain of numerical cognition. However, despite the considerable amount of research on this topic, the conclusions in the literature are not always coherent. Therefore, there is a need to carry on the investigation, and this is the reason why we developed the operand recognition paradigm (ORP). It capitalizes on the fact that, contrary to retrieval, calculation procedures degrade the memory traces of the operands involved in a problem. As a consequence, the use of calculation procedures is inferred from relatively long recognition times of the operands. However, it has been suggested that recognition times within the ORP do not reflect strategies but the difficulty of switching from a difficult task (calculation) to a simpler one (recognition). In order to examine this possibility, in a series of 3 experiments we equalized switch-cost variations in all conditions through the introduction of intermediate tasks between problem solving and recognition. Despite this neutralization, we still obtained the classical effects of the ORP, namely longer recognition times after addition than after comparison. We conclude that the largest part of the ORP effects is related to different strategy use and not to difficulty-related switch costs. The possible applications and promising outcomes of the ORP in and outside the field of numerical cognition are discussed.
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