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Pervasiveness and magnitude of context effects evidence for the relativity of absolute magnitude estimation



Pervasiveness and magnitude of context effects evidence for the relativity of absolute magnitude estimation



Perception & Psychophysics 48(6): 551-558



To test the assertion that absolute magnitude estimation serves to minimize context effects, two experiments were conducted in which area stimuli were judged under differing conditions. In Experiment 1, four groups of subjects made magnitude estimations of triangles ranging in area from 1.5 to 3,072 cm2. No standard or modulus was used, and instructions were similar to those used in absolute magnitude estimation experiments. Each group first judged a different subrange of the stimuli (1.5-24; 48-768; 6-96; or 192-3,072 cm2) before making judgments of the remaining stimuli. In Experiment 2, two groups of subjects made magnitude estimations of triangles ranging in area from 1.5 to 12,228 cm2, with each group first judging a different subrange of stimuli (1.5-24 cm2 or 768-12,288 cm2). The design and instructions were virtually identical to those used in absolute magnitude estimation experiments. Our results indicate that the wording of the instructions is not crucial and that judgments are influenced in two ways that are not predicted by proponents of absolute magnitude estimation. First, the power functions fit to the initially presented subranges (e.g., 1.5-24 cm2), which were judged without contextual effects produced by previously presented stimuli, were inconsistent with one another. Second, judgements of the remaining stimuli were influenced by the subrange of stimuli judged initially. The prevalence of context effects in both experiments, in spite of instructional differences, suggests that although one should avoid using a standard and modulus, there is little else to be gained by adopting the absolute magnitude estimation procedure.

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Accession: 007644349

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 2270187

DOI: 10.3758/bf03211601


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