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Geometric Interpretations of Some Psychophysical Results

Levine, Michael V.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Data Analysis, Measurement Techniques, Psychophysiology, Research Methodology


A theory of psychophysics is discussed that enlarges the classical theory in three general ways: (1) the multidimensional nature of perception is made explicit; (2) the transformations of the theory are interpreted geometrically; and (3) attributes are distinguished from sensations and only partially ordered. It is shown that, with the enlarged theory and some elementary geometry, one may use a few ideas to explain many qualitative results, to give a credible and precise account of quantitative properties of data, and to design experiments which seem worth doing whether the theory is valid or not. In developing the new theory, the major criticisms of the classical theory are answered. This paper is limited to one of three aspects of the typical psychophysical measurement experiment--the relation between perceptions and attributes. Although the theory has been extended to category and rating scales, only magnitude estimation and related measurement procedures are discussed here. The scope of this paper is further limited to phenomena which have analogues in several sense modalities. (Author/KM) (58pp.)

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