James McKeen Cattell and the method of constant stimuli in the psychophysics of movement

  • Roger Adams University of Sydney
  • Kwee-Yum Lee Australian Catholic University
  • Gordon Wadddington University of Canberra
  • Hae-Jung Lee Silla University


In 1892, Cattell & Fullerton published a paper on “The Psychophysics of Movement†in which they summarised their findings from the application of Fechner’s methods to the study of the extent, force, and time of arm movements made without the aid of vision. Using a form of Munsterberg’s apparatus (Titchener, 1905) they found the method of right and wrong cases to be ‘the most accurate of the methods’ and the difference associated with 75% correct judgement to be the ‘most convenient measure of discrimination’. By 1990s, however a major work on examining the role of proprioception in joint stability listed only the methods of adjustment (Joint Position Sense) and limits (Kinesthesia) as being ways of measuring movement sensitivity. Recent technical developments have enabled researchers to employ the Cattell & Fullerton method to obtain psychophysical measures of proprioception derived from the comparison of active movements made to physical stops.

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