, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 180-184

Comparing objects in memory: Evidence suggesting an internal psychophysics

Abstract

In this experiment, Ss were visually presented with the names of two animals and were required to throw a switch under the name of the larger animal. Although error rates were relatively low (4.5%), reaction time (RT) was largely an inverse linear function of the logarithm of the estimated difference in animal size. Since RT is similarly related to size differences when Ss make direct perceptual comparisons (e.g., of lengths of line),.it was argued that Ss compare animal names by making an “internal psychophysical judgment.” A more general model was then proposed for answering, from memory, questions of the form, “Which is /X/, /A/ or [B/?” where /X/ is any comparative adjective and /A/and /B/ are any concrete nouns.

I thank Rich Freund, Tom Landauer, and Dave Meyer for helpful comments on various stages of the manuscript.