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“Groupitizing”: a strategyfor numerosity estimation

Anobile G., Castaldi E., Maldonado Moscoso P. A., Burr D.C. & Arrighi R.

Previous work has shown that when arrays of objects are grouped within clusters, participants can enumerate their numerosity more rapidly than when objects are randomly scattered, a phenomenon termed “groupitizing”. Importantly, the magnitude of the grouping advantage correlates with math abilities in children. Here we show that sensory precision of numerosity estimation is also improved when grouping cues are available, by up to 20%. The grouping can be induced by color and/or spatial proximity, and occurs in temporal sequences as well as spatial arrays. The improvement is strongest for participants with the highest thresholds in the random, ungrouped conditions. Taken together with previous research, our data suggest that measurements correlations between numerosity estimation and formal math skills may be driven by grouping strategies, which require a minimal level of basic arithmetic.

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