Automatic place-value activation in magnitude-irrelevant parity judgement

  • Krzysztof CiporaEmail author
  • Mojtaba Soltanlou
  • Stefan Smaczny
  • Silke M. Göbel
  • Hans-Christoph Nuerk
Original Article


Research on multi-digit number processing suggests that, in Arabic numerals, their place-value magnitude is automatically activated, whenever a magnitude-relevant task was employed. However, so far, it is unknown, whether place-value is also activated when the target task is magnitude-irrelevant. The current study examines this question using the parity congruency effect in two-digit numbers: It describes that responding to decade-digit parity congruent numbers (e.g., 35, 46; same parity of decades and units) is faster than to decade-digit parity incongruent numbers (e.g., 25; 36; different parities of decades and units). Here we investigate the (a-) symmetry of the parity congruency effect; i.e. whether it makes a difference whether participants are assessing the parity of the unit digit or the decade digit. We elaborate, how and why such an asymmetry is related to place-value processing, because the parity of the unit digit only interferes with the parity of the decade digit, while the parity of the decade digit interferes with both the parity of the unit digit and the integrated parity of the whole two-digit number. We observed a significantly larger parity congruency effect in the decade parity decision than in the unit parity decision. This suggests that automatic place-value processing also takes place in a typical parity judgment task, in which magnitude is irrelevant. Finally, because of the cross-lingual design of the study, we can show that these results and their implications were language-independent.



We would like to thank all the participants. This research was funded by a DFG grant [NU 265/3-1] to HCN supporting KC and MS. KC, MS, and HCN are further supported by the LEAD Graduate School and Research Network [GSC1028], which is funded within the framework of the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments. MS is also supported by the Institutional Strategy of the University of Tübingen (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, ZUK 63). Finally, we thank our assistants Florine Winkler, Lia Heubner and Marie-Lene Schlenker, who helped with data collection and Julianne Skinner for proofreading the manuscript.


This research was funded by a DFG grant [NU 265/3-1] to HCN supporting KC and MS.

Compliance to the ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TuebingenTuebingenGermany
  2. 2.LEAD Graduate School & Research NetworkUniversity of TuebingenTuebingenGermany
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  4. 4.Department of Special Needs EducationUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  5. 5.Leibnitz-Institut für WissenmedienTuebingenGermany

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