Differences in counting skills between Chinese and German children are accompanied by differences in processing of approximate numerical magnitude information

  • Human beings are supposed to possess an approximate number system (ANS) dedicated to extracting and representing approximate numerical magnitude information as well as an object tracking system (OTS) for the rapid and accurate enumeration of small sets. It is assumed that the OTS and the ANS independently contribute to the acquisition of more elaborate numerical concepts. Chinese children have been shown to exhibit more elaborate numerical concepts than their non-Chinese peers, but it is still an open question whether similar cross-national differences exist with regard to the underlying systems, namely the ANS and the OTS. In the present study, we investigated this question by comparing Chinese and German preschool children with regard to their performance in a non-symbolic numerical magnitude comparison task (assessing the ANS) and in an enumeration task (assessing the OTS). In addition, we compared children’s counting skills. To ensure that possible between-group differences could not be explained by differences in more general performance factors, we also assessed children’s reasoning ability and processing speed. Chinese children showed a better counting performance and a more accurate performance in the non-symbolic numerical magnitude comparison task. These differences in performance could not be ascribed to differences in reasoning abilities and processing speed. In contrast, Chinese and German children did not differ significantly in the enumeration of small sets. The superior counting performance of Chinese children was thus found to be reflected in the ANS but not in the OTS.

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Author:Jan Lonnemann, Su Li, Pei Zhao, Janosch LinkersdörferORCiDGND, Sven LindbergGND, Marcus HasselhornGND, Song Yan
Parent Title (English):Frontiers in psychology
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
Place of publication:Lausanne
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2019/01/08
Date of first Publication:2019/01/08
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2020/01/23
Tag:approximate number system; counting; cross-national comparison; preschool; subitizing
Issue:art. 2656
Page Number:8
Copyright © 2019 Lonnemann, Li, Zhao, Linkersdörfer, Lindberg, Hasselhorn and Yan. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Institutes:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften / Psychologie
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0