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The Measurement of Sensation$
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Donald Laming

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198523420

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198523420.001.0001

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The psychophysical primitive

The psychophysical primitive

(p.143) 10 The psychophysical primitive
The Measurement of Sensation

Donald Laming

Oxford University Press

Suppose that the comparison of one stimulus with its predecessor is little better than ordinal, admitting at most five categories of judgment — five, because the accuracy of absolute identification of stimulus magnitudes on a single continuum may be equivalent to as many as five categories without error. This chapter introduces a model for ‘absolute’ judgment that is then used to account for certain quantitative results in sensory judgment — the variability of absolute identifications, the variance and correlation of log magnitude estimates, and the structure of cross-modal matching. The applicability of this model means that there is no absolute judgment of stimulus magnitude, nor of differences in magnitude, nor ratios. Sensory judgment is no better than ordinal; this precludes the identification of any scale of sensation distinct from the physical scale of stimulus magnitude.

Keywords:   absolute identification, correlation, cross-modal matching, ordinal judgment, variance

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