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Experiment Author: Adapted from STEP and used with permission of Brian MacWhinney
This experiment uses subtractive analysis to determine how long it takes to make a decision about two letters, dependent on how complex a category discrimination is necessary.
For instance, it's easier to say that AA are the same than Aa than Ea (both vowels). The more analysis needs to be done, the longer it takes.
In this experiment participants identify if letter pairs are the same or different. There are three sections in the experiment and each section uses a different set of criteria to determine if letters are the same or different such as letter, case, or if it is a vowel or consonant. Each section contains 30 trials, for 90 total trials in the experiment. Participants respond with the X and Z keys on the keyboard.
Posner, M.J., & Mitchell, R.F. (1967). Chronometric analsis of classification. Psychological Review, 74, 392-409.
Cited Experiment Abstract
This series of studies represents an effort to extend the subtractive method of Donders to the analsysis of depth of processing in simple classification tasks. The stimuli are always pairs of items (letters, nonsense forms, digits) to which S must respond "same" or "different" as quickly as possible. Levels of instruction are physical identity (e.g., AA), name identity (e.g., Aa), and rule identity (e.g., both vowels). By use of the subtractive method, times for matches at leach level are analyzed. The emphasis is not placed upon the times themselves but upon their relevance for understanding the operations and mechanisms involved in perceptual matching, naming, and classifying.
Works Cited by the Experiment
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Broadbent, D.E., & Gregory, M. On the interaction of S-R compatibility with other variables affecting reaction time. British Journal of Psychology, 1965, 56, 61-67.
Donders, F.C. Ueber die Schnelligkeit psychischer Prozesse. Pfluegers Archiv fuer Anatomie und Physiologie, 1868, 657-681. cited by G. ten. Doesschate, Notes on the history of reaction time experiments. Philips Technical Review, 1963, 25, 75-80.
Egeth, H.E. Parallel versus serial processes in multidimensional stimulus discrimination. Perception & Psychophysics, 1966, 1, 245-252.
Egeth, H.E. Selective attention. Psychological Bulletin, 1967, 67, 41-56.
Fitts, P.M. Cognitive aspects of information processing III: Set for speed versus accuracy. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1966, 71, 849-857.
Fitts, P.M., & Switzer, G. Cognitive aspects of information processing: I. The familiarity of S-R sets and subsets. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1962, 63, 321-329.
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Neisser, U. Decision time without reaction time. American Journal of Psychology, 1963, 76, 376-385.
Neisser, U., & Beller, H.K. searching through word lists. British Journal of Psychology, 1965, 56, 349-358.
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