Automatic processing of place-value in kindergarteners

Michelle Nga Ki KONG, Wai Lan Winnie CHAN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


This study explored whether kindergarteners who had yet to learn about multi-digit numbers at school could automatically process the underlying magnitudes, i.e., place-values, represented by the digits in a multi-digit number. A place-value Stroop task showed a pair of price tags in each trial. Each price tag contained a three-digit number, of which only one digit was visible. Children were asked to decide which price tag contained the physically larger digit. Results showed that both accuracy and reaction time were affected by place-values of the digits when the digits were sufficiently far apart in terms of decimal distance. Our findings suggest that young children are capable of activating and comparing place-values automatically, even before being formally introduced to the place-value concept. Copyright © 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-458
JournalEuropean Journal of Developmental Psychology
Issue number3
Early online dateJan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


Kong, M. N. K., & Chan, W. W. L. (2021). Automatic processing of place-value in kindergarteners. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 18(3), 446-458. doi: 10.1080/17405629.2020.1854216


  • Automatic processing
  • Number Stroop task
  • Place-value
  • Children


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