Is absolute identification always relative? Comment on Stewart, Brown, and Chater (2005)

American Psychological Association
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Psychological Review, 2007, 114 (2), pp. 528 - 532
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N. Stewart, G. D. A. Brown, and N. Chater's (2005) relative judgment model includes three core assumptions that enable it to predict accurately the vast majority of classical phenomena in absolute identification choices, but not the time taken to make them, including sequential effects, such as assimilation and contrast. These core assumptions, coupled with the parameter values used in the above-mentioned article, lead to the prediction that identification accuracy is low when a large stimulus on 1 trial is followed by a small stimulus on the next trial and vice versa. Data do not support this prediction. The authors identify a set of parameters that allow the model to better fit the data, but problems remain when the data are analyzed with a version of the discrimination measure (d') from signal detection theory. The fundamental problem is that the model fits data on average but at the expense of making incorrect predictions in detail.
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