Not Toeing the Number Line for Simple Arithmetic: Two Large-N Conceptual Replications of Mathieu et al. (Cognition, 2016, Experiment 1)


  • Jamie I. D. Campbell Orcid
  • Yalin Chen
  • Maham Azhar


We conducted two conceptual replications of Experiment 1 in Mathieu, Gourjon, Couderc, Thevenot, and Prado (2016, They tested a sample of 34 French adults on mixed-operation blocks of single-digit addition (4 + 3) and subtraction (4 – 3) with the three problem elements (O1, +/-, O2) presented sequentially. Addition was 34 ms faster if O2 appeared 300 ms after the operation sign and displaced 5° to the right of central fixation, whereas subtraction was 19 ms faster when O2 was displaced to the left. Replication Experiment 1 (n = 74 recruited at the University of Saskatchewan) used the same non-zero addition and subtraction problems and trial event sequence as Mathieu et al., but participants completed blocks of pure addition and pure subtraction followed by the mixed-operation condition used by Mathieu et al. Addition RT showed a 32 ms advantage with O2 shifted rightward relative to leftward but only in mixed-operation blocks. There was no effect of O2 position on subtraction RT. Experiment 2 (n = 74) was the same except mixed-operation blocks occurred before the pure-operation blocks. There was an overall 13 ms advantage with O2 shifted right relative to leftward but no interaction with operation or with mixture (i.e., pure vs mixed operations). Nonetheless, the rightward RT advantage was statistically significant for both addition and subtraction only in mixed-operation blocks. Taken together with the robust effects of mixture in Experiment 1, the results suggest that O2 position effects in this paradigm might reflect task specific demands associated with mixed operations.