SNARC-like compatibility effects for physical and phenomenal magnitudes: A study on visual illusions


Both numerical and non-numerical magnitudes elicit similar Spatial-Numerical Association of Response Codes (SNARC) effects, with small magnitudes associated with left hand responses and large magnitudes associated with right hand responses (Dehaene, Bossini, Giraux, 1993). In the present study, we investigated whether the phenomenal size of visual illusions elicits the same SNARC-like effect revealed for the physical size of pictorial surfaces. Four experiments were conducted by using the Delboeuf illusion (Experiment 1) and the Kanizsa triangle illusion (Experiments 2, 3 & 4). Experiment 1 suggests the presence of a SNARC-like compatibility effect for the physical size of the inducers, while this effect was not revealed for the phenomenal size of the induced elements, possibly masked by a stronger effect of the inducers. A SNARC-like effect for the phenomenal size of the Kanizsa triangle was revealed when participants directly compared the size of the triangles (Experiment 4). Conversely, when participants performed an indirect task (orientation judgment), the SNARC-like effect was present neither for the illusory nor for the physical displays (Experiments 2 & 3). The effect revealed for the size of illusory triangles was comparable to that of real triangles with physical contours, suggesting that both phenomenal and physical magnitudes similarly elicit SNARC-like effects.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


visual illusion, magnitude representation, SNARC, Kanizsa, Delboeuf


Prpic, V., Soranzo, A., Santoro. I., Fantoni, C., Galmonte, A., Agostini, T., Murgia, M. (2018) SNARC-like compatibility effects for physical and phenomenal magnitudes: A study on visual illusions. Psychological Research, pp. 1-16.


Research Institute

Institute for Psychological Science