Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 67, Issue 7, pp 1289-1303

First online:

Comparing and unifying slope estimates across psychometric function models

  • James M. GilchristAffiliated withDepartment of Optometry, University of Bradford Email author 
  • , David JerwoodAffiliated withDepartment of Optometry, University of Bradford
  • , H. Sam IsmaielAffiliated withDepartment of Optometry, University of Bradford


The psychometric function relating stimulus intensity to response probability generally presents itself as a monotonically increasing sigmoid profile. Two summary parameters of the function are particularly important as measures of perceptual performance: the threshold parameter, which defines the location of the function over the stimulus axis (abscissa), and the slope parameter, which defines the (local) rate at which response probability increases with increasing stimulus intensity. In practice, the psychometric function may be modeled by a variety of mathematical structures, and the resulting algebraic expression describing the slope parameter may vary considerably between different functions fitted to the same experimental data. This variation often restricts comparisons between studies that select different functions and compromises the general interpretation of slope values. This article reviews the general characteristics of psychometric function models, discusses three strategies for resolving the issue of slope value differences, and presents mathematical expressions for implementing each strategy.