Time- and space-order effects in timed discrimination of brightness and size of paired visual stimuli

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2012 Aug;38(4):915-40. doi: 10.1037/a0027593. Epub 2012 Apr 2.


Despite the importance of both response probability and response time for testing models of choice, there is a dearth of chronometric studies examining systematic asymmetries that occur over time- and space-orders in the method of paired comparisons. In this study, systematic asymmetries in discriminating the magnitude of paired visual stimuli are examined by way of log odds ratios of binary responses as well as by signed response speed. Hierarchical Bayesian modeling is used to map response probabilities and response speed onto constituent psychological process, and processing capacity is also assessed using response time distribution hazard functions. The findings include characteristic order effects that change systematically in magnitude and direction with changes in the magnitude and separation of the stimuli. After Hellström (1979, 2000), sensation weighting (SW) model analyses show that such order effects are reflected in the weighted accumulation of noisy information about the difference between stimulus values over time, and interindividual differences in weightings asymmetries are related to the relative processing capacity of participants. An account of SW based on the use of reference level information and maximization of signal-to-noise ratios is posited, which finds support from theoretically driven analyses of behavioral data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Odds Ratio
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio
  • Size Perception / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult