Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Time-Order Errors and Standard-Position Effects in Duration Discrimination: An Experimental Study and an Analysis by the Sensation-Weighting Model

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Time-Order Errors and Standard-Position Effects in Duration Discrimination: An Experimental Study and an Analysis by the Sensation-Weighting Model

Article excerpt

Published online: 17 June 2015

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2015

Abstract Studies have shown that the discriminability of successive time intervals depends on the presentation order of the standard (St) and the comparison (Co) stimuli. Also, this order affects the point of subjective equality. The first effect is here called the standard-position effect (SPE); the latter is known as the time-order error. In the present study, we investigated how these two effects vary across interval types and standard durations, using Hellström's sensation-weighting model to describe the results and relate them to stimulus comparison mechanisms. In Experiment1, four modes of interval presentation were used, factorially combining interval type (filled, empty) and sensory modality (auditory, visual). For each mode, two presentation orders (St-Co, Co-St) and two standard durations (100 ms, 1,000 ms) were used; half of the participants received correctness feedback, and half of them did not. The interstimulus interval was 900 ms. The SPEs were negative (i.e., a smaller difference limen for St-Co than for Co-St), except for the filled-auditory and empty-visual 100-ms standards, for which a positive effect was obtained. In Experiment2, duration discrimination was investigated for filled auditory intervals with four standards between 100 and 1,000 ms, an interstimulus interval of 900 ms, and no feedback. Standard duration interacted with presentation order, here yielding SPEs that were negative for standards of 100 and 1,000 ms, but positive for 215 and 464 ms. Our findings indicate that the SPE can be positive as well as negative, depending on the interval type and standard duration, reflecting the relative weighting of the stimulus information, as is described by the sensation-weighting model.

Keywords Duration discrimination . presentation order . Time-order error . Standard-position effect . Type-B effect

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

What happens when we compare two successively presented stimuli, X and Y? According to the commonly assumed difference model, the comparison response (e.g., first greater, second greater) is determined by the difference between the momentary subjective magnitudes of the stimuli (Thurstone, 1927a, b). Furthermore, these magnitudes are only dependent on the stimuli, and are independent of such factors as their presentation order (X-Yor Y-X) within the pair. Hence, no systematic under- or overestimation of the first or the second stimulus, relative to the other, should occur. The time-order error (TOE), first noted by Gustav Fechner (1860), violates this prediction but has often been explained, within the framework of the difference model, as being due to some kind of response bias (see, e.g., Alcalá-Quintana & García-Pérez, 2011). However, plenty of experimental evidence, in different sensory continua and using different paradigms, has invalidated the latter explanation of the TOE (e.g., Hellström, 1977, 1978; Jamieson & Petrusic, 1975).

Most often, participants' abilities to tell the difference between two stimuli are studied by methods in which the stimuli are presented in succession, with one stimulus being held constant (the standard stimulus, St) and the other (the comparison stimulus, Co) varying around it. Discrimination sensitivity is then usually measured by the difference limen (DL), often defined as one-half of the change in either stimulus that is needed to change the response distribution from, for instance, 75% Bfirst greater^ to 75% Bsecond greater.^ The difference model predicts that discrimination sensitivity, as measured by the DL, should be independent of whether the first stimulus is fixed and the second varied (St- Co) or vice versa (Co-St). This prediction is contradicted by what will here be called the standard-position effect (SPE): DLs, as well as the percentages of correct responses, typically differ systematically between the orders St - Co and Co - St. …

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