Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 1–19 | Cite as

On the prediction of confusion matrices from similarity judgments

  • David J. Getty
  • John A. Swets
  • Joel B. Swets
  • David M. Green


Three observers viewed visual representations of eight complex sounds in both a pairwise similarity-judgment task and an identification task. A multidimensional scaling procedure applied to the similarity judgments yielded a three-dimensional perceptual space and the relative positions of the stimuli in that space. A probabilistic decision model based on weighted interstimulus distances served to predict well the confusion matrices of the identification task. Three conditions of the identification task, calling for identification of different subsets of the eight stimuli, led the observers to vary the weights they placed on the dimensions; they apparently adjusted the weights to maximize the percent correct identification. An additional group of 14 subjects, participating only in the similarity-judgment task, manifested the same three dimensions as the observers (corresponding to the locus of low-frequency energy, the locus of midfrequency energy, and visual contrast), and also a fourth dimension (corresponding to the periodicity, or waxing and waning, of the sound). Although not evident in the scaling analysis for the three observers, our utilization of the additional dimension increased significantly the variance accounted for in their identification responses. The overall accuracy of the predictions from a perceptual space to identification responses supplies a substantial validation of the use of multidimensional scaling procedures to reveal perceptual structure in demonstrating the ability of that structure to account for behavior in an independent task. The empirical success of this approach, furthermore, suggests a relatively simple and practical means of predicting, and possibly enhancing, identification performance for a given set of visual or auditory stimuli.


Identification Task Perceptual Space Acoustical Society ofAmerica Confusion Matrice Similarity Judgment 
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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. Getty
    • 1
  • John A. Swets
    • 1
  • Joel B. Swets
    • 1
  • David M. Green
    • 1
  1. 1.Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc.Cambridge

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