Influence of the large–small split effect on strategy choice in complex subtraction

Yan hui Xiang, Hao Wu, Rui hong Shang, Xiaomei Chao, Ting ting Ren, Li ling Zheng, Lei Mo
Published Online:
01 Apr 2016
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 53 Issue 2

Additional Options

Two main theories have been used to explain the arithmetic split effect: decision‐making process theory and strategy choice theory. Using the inequality paradigm, previous studies have confirmed that individuals tend to adopt a plausibility‐checking strategy and a whole‐calculation strategy to solve large and small split problems in complex addition arithmetic, respectively. This supports strategy choice theory, but it is unknown whether this theory also explains performance in solving different split problems in complex subtraction arithmetic. This study used small, intermediate and large split sizes, with each split condition being further divided into problems requiring and not requiring borrowing. The reaction times (RTs) for large and intermediate splits were significantly shorter than those for small splits, while accuracy was significantly higher for large and middle splits than for small splits, reflecting no speed–accuracy trade‐off. Further, RTs and accuracy differed significantly between the borrow and no‐borrow conditions only for small splits. This study indicates that strategy choice theory is suitable to explain the split effect in complex subtraction arithmetic. That is, individuals tend to choose the plausibility‐checking strategy or the whole‐calculation strategy according to the split size.

© 2016 International Union of Psychological Science