In this study, we test whether children whose culture lacks CWs and counting practices use a spatial strategy to support enumeration tasks. Children from two indigenous communities in Australia whose native and only language (Warlpiri or Anindilyakwa) lacked CWs and were tested on classical number development tasks, and the results were compared with those of children reared in an English-speaking environment. We found that Warlpiri- and Anindilyakwa-speaking children performed equivalently to their English-speaking counterparts. However, in tasks in which they were (...) required to match the number of objects in a display, they were more likely to reconstruct part or all of the spatial arrangement of the target than were their English-speaking counterparts. Following John Locke's interpretation of users of similar American languages and in contrast with later Whorfian interpretations, we suggest that CWs may be strategically useful, but that in their absence, other task-specific strategies will be deployed. (shrink)
Research in mathematical cognition has shown that rates, and other interpretations of x/y, are hard to learn and understand. On the other hand, there is extensive evidence that the brain is endowed with a specialized mechanism for representing and manipulating the numerosities of sets – that is, frequencies. Hence, base-rates are neglected precisely because they are rates, whereas frequencies are indeed natural.