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Research Article

The Odd-Even Effect in Multiplication: Familiarity with Even Numbers or A Parity Rule After All?

Authors:

Stefaan Vandorpe ,

Department of Psychology, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Gent, BE
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Stijn De Rammelaere,

Ghent University, BE
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André Vandierendonck

Ghent University, BE
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Abstract

This study investigated two possible explanations for the odd-even effect in simple arithmetic. This effect is well documented for multiplication, and implies that an incorrect proposed answer in a verification task is rejected faster if the parity of that answer is different from the parity of the correct answer. The explanation based on the parity rule (Krueger, 1986) contends that subjects (implicitly) use the information that the parity of incorrect and correct answers diverge. The second explanation is based on familiarity with even numbers (Lochy, Seron, Delazer, & Butterworth, 2000). Three fourths of the possible products have indeed an even outcome, so that, according to the familiarity hypothesis, rejecting a wrong even answer is more difficult than rejecting a wrong odd answer. In this study, we conducted a straightforward test of both accounts by presenting as many even as odd incongruent/congruent answers. A main congruency effect which did not interact with problem type was found. The congruency effect on O × O problems, however, was not significant. The study concludes that (1) the evidence argues against the familiarity hypothesis; (2) the parity rule cannot be generalized to all problem types but is restricted to certain types of problems; and (3) the findings on problems with two odd multipliers leave the possibility for a limited familiarity with even numbers.
How to Cite: Vandorpe, S., Rammelaere, S.D. and Vandierendonck, A., 2004. The Odd-Even Effect in Multiplication: Familiarity with Even Numbers or A Parity Rule After All?. Psychologica Belgica, 44(3), pp.143–157. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/pb.1021
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Published on 01 Jan 2004.
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