MEASURING PERCEIVED MAGNITUDE: IT’S LEGAL BUT IS IT LAWFUL?

  • Robert Teghtsoonian

Abstract

The study of perceived magnitude has been a central issue in psychophysics since Fechnerproposed that it is proportional to the logarithm of stimulus strength. There is now a largebody of evidence showing that relation to follow a power law, and that it holds for a widevariety of perceptual continua. While the methods developed for the measurement ofperceived magnitude have grown in number and variety, and have been successfully appliedto a wide variety of real-world problems, critics have raised questions about the power law,and whether it or any other general rule can be shown to be generally applicable. This paperreviews such objections and argues that alleged deficiencies can be resolved, and that for thepresent, the power law is too valuable, as a summary statement encompassing a large body ofexperimental findings, to be abandoned.
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