The distance effect (comparing objects becomes easier with increasing difference in their magnitude) can be observed in tasks ranging across different domains and its existence has been interpreted as evidence for analog magnitude representation. Similarly, associations between response side and magnitude (faster left/right-sided responses to small/large objects, respectively) can also be observed across domains. Here, we aimed to investigate the analog processing of angles and the association between angle magnitude and response side in relation to expertise in geometry. To this end, we compared the behavioral pattern of two groups – architects and controls – in two tasks: 1) a direct angle magnitude classification task (i.e., judge whether a presented angle was greater or less than 90 degrees); 2) an indirect task (i.e., judge whether an angle was drawn with a dashed or continuous line). We found a robust distance effect at the whole sample level and in each group separately. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first evidence of the distance effect for angle magnitudes. Interestingly, architects presented longer reaction times but greater accuracy than controls and revealed a smaller distance effect for accuracy than controls. At the same time, we did not find evidence for an association between angle magnitude and response side. Based on these results, we conclude that the mental representation of angles is analog, and that this representation is more precise in architects than in controls. However, we did not find any evidence supporting this representation being associated with space in any group.
Raw data and analysis script for this paper are available at Open Science Framework.