Consequences of Base Time for Redundant Signals Experiments

J Math Psychol. 2007 Aug;51(4):242-265. doi: 10.1016/


We report analytical and computational investigations into the effects of base time on the diagnosticity of two popular theoretical tools in the redundant signals literature: (1) the race model inequality and (2) the capacity coefficient. We show analytically and without distributional assumptions that the presence of base time decreases the sensitivity of both of these measures to model violations. We further use simulations to investigate the statistical power model selection tools based on the race model inequality, both with and without base time. Base time decreases statistical power, and biases the race model test toward conservatism. The magnitude of this biasing effect increases as we increase the proportion of total reaction time variance contributed by base time. We marshal empirical evidence to suggest that the proportion of reaction time variance contributed by base time is relatively small, and that the effects of base time on the diagnosticity of our model-selection tools are therefore likely to be minor. However, uncertainty remains concerning the magnitude and even the definition of base time. Experimentalists should continue to be alert to situations in which base time may contribute a large proportion of the total reaction time variance.