The Journal of Mathematical Behavior vol:31 issue:3 pages:344-355
A major source of errors in rational number tasks is the inappropriate application of natural number rules. We hypothesized that this is an instance of intuitive reasoning and thus can persist in adults, even when they respond correctly. This was tested by means of a reaction time method, relying on a dual process perspective that differentiates between intuitive and analytic reasoning. We measured fifty-eight educated adults’ accuracies and reaction times in a variety of rational number tasks. In half of the items (congruent), the correct response was compatible with natural number properties (thus intuitive reasoning led to a correct answer). In contrast, in the incongruent items, intuitive reasoning would lead to an incorrect answer. In comparing two numbers, there were hardly any natural-numberbased errors but correct responses to incongruent items took longer. Regarding the effect of operations, more mistakes were made in incongruent items, and correct responses required longer reaction time. Incongruent items about density elicited considerably more errors than congruent items. These findings can be considered as evidence that the natural number bias is an instance of intuitive reasoning.