Application of the Category Adjustment Model in Temporal, Spatial, and Abstract Magnitude at the Billions Scale


The current study examines the generalization of the Category Adjustment Model (CAM) across scales along two dimensions: time and distance. Participants were presented with geologic time and astronomical distance information either conventionally or using the hierarchical alignment model. Participants provided with hierarchically structured magnitude information for time and distances were more accurate on similar estimations at large scales than participants given the same content in a conventional manner. Patterns in event and distance estimation, along with overall group differences, are consistent with the CAM; suggesting people use hierarchically organized categorical information when estimating across scales and dimensions, and providing salient category boundary information improves estimation. Findings suggest a common representation of scale information for temporal, spatial, and abstract (numeric) magnitudes. Patterns of abstract magnitude estimations are consistent with segmented linear models of scale representation. Implications of the CAM in scale representation and the hierarchical alignment model in education are discussed.

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