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September 2021

Is a bee bigger than a flea? A classroom mental imagery activity

Journal/Book: Teach Psychol. 2000; 27: 10 Industrial Ave, Mahwah, NJ 07430-2262, USA. Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc Inc. 212-214.

Abstract: When people decide which of 2 imagined objects is bigger, their decision time increases as the size difference between the 2 objects decreases. In this article, I describe a classroom activity that quickly and reliably replicates this result, the symbolic distance effect, even in small classes. Students read a list of 24 animal pairs and decide which animal in each pair is larger. Students require more decision time for small size differences (e.g., bee-flea) than for large size differences (e.g., bear-flea). One explanation for thf results involves the generation and comparison of mental images; thus, the activity is a good way to introduce students to research on imagery and the general issue of mental representation.

Note: Article Thompson WB, Niagara Univ, Dept Psychol, Niagara Falls,NY 14109 USA


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