Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 137–151

Constrained scaling: The effect of learned psychophysical scales on idiosyncratic response bias


DOI: 10.3758/BF03212067

Cite this article as:
West, R.L., Ward, L.M. & Khosla, R. Perception & Psychophysics (2000) 62: 137. doi:10.3758/BF03212067


We report seven experiments in which subjects were trained to respond with numbers to the loudness of 1000-Hz pure tones according to power functions with exponents of 0.60, 0.30, and 0.90. Subjects were then presented with stimuli from other continua (65-Hz pure tones or 565-nm lights varying in amplitude) and were asked to judge the subjective magnitude of these stimuli on the same numerical scale. Stimuli from the training continuum were presented, with feedback, on every other trial in order to maintain the trained scale. Except for the 0.90 scale, subjects readily learned the predetermined scales and were able to use them to judge the non-training stimuli with group results consistent with those usually reported. Also, in contrast to the usual magnitude estimation results, these results produced extremely low levels of intersubject variability. We argue that such learned scales can be used as “rulers” for measuring perceived magnitudes, according to a common unit.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Hong KongHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada