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What Is Difference Threshold In Psychology

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Of Constant Stimuli Experiment

Weight difference threshold – Intro to Psychology


Choose the longer of the two line segment stimuli presented on the screen. You will be asked to enter approximately 240 judgments .

Sample Method of Constant Stimuli Screen

Explanation of the Stimulus Screen

The bottom of the stimulus screen displays the controls that you will beusing for this experiment. You can indicate which of the lines you judge to belonger by using the mouse and “clicking” the appropriately labeled button. By doing so, the computer will lock-in your judgment and automatically display thenext pair of line stimuli.


NoticeCompletion of this experiment requires approximately 200 responses .

Just Noticeable Difference In Psychology

The just noticeable difference , also known as the difference threshold, is the minimum level of stimulation that a person can detect 50 percent of the time. For example, if you were asked to hold two objects of different weights, the just noticeable difference would be the minimum weight difference between the two that you could sense half of the time.

It is important not to confuse the just noticeable difference and the absolute threshold. While the difference threshold involves the ability to detect differences in stimulation levels, the absolute threshold refers to the smallest detectable level of stimulation.

The absolute threshold for sound, for example, would be the lowest volume level that a person could detect. The just noticeable difference would be the smallest change in volume that a person could sense.

The Absolute Threshold For Hearing

The absolute threshold for hearing her first to the lowest sound level that a person with normal hearing can detect at least 50% of the time when no other sounds are present. For example, researchers might test the absolute threshold for the detection of the sound of a metronome.

In general, children tend to be able to detect lower levels of sound in adults because their hearing is more sensitive. As people age, hearing tends to decline.

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What Is Absolute Threshold

Initially, according to the studies of neuroscience and psychophysics, absolute threshold referred to the minimum intensity level of a stimulus at which a persons sense receptors could perceive it. For example, the lowest volume at which one can hear, the shortest distance till which one can see clearly, the smallest amount of concentration of a fragrance that one can smell, and so on.

However, it was later observed that internal or external factors could influence the absolute threshold of a person. For example, an individual can taste food easily when the level of health was good. But on catching a slight cold, the intensity of taste while eating the food decreased. This made it difficult to determine the individuals absolute threshold as health conditions are prone to change at different times.

To counter this problem, it was decided to change the definition and method of determining ones absolute threshold. Now, physicists would carry out multiple tests on a person over a certain period. The value which came out to be true fifty percent of the time would be referred to as the absolute threshold of the person.

Presently, absolute threshold is the smallest amount of intensity at which an individual can perceive a stimulus fifty percent of the time. The idea which influences this modification is known as the single detection theory. It states that there is no single absolute threshold because of other influencing factors.

Absolute Vs Difference Threshold: Ap Psychology Crash Course Review

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Sensation and Perception is possibly one of the less appreciated areas in psychology for the majority of high school and undergrad students because of its resemblance to physics and other hard sciences that commonly scare psychology students away. This happens especially when weird terms like Absolute Threshold, Difference Threshold, and Webers Law come up. However, these themes are not as difficult as they may sound, and if you still fear psychophysics, read on in this Advanced Placement Psychology Crash Course Review to clear your doubts and understand what Absolute Threshold, Difference Threshold, and Webers Law are all about.

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What Is An Example Of Difference Threshold

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Considering this, what is an example of absolute threshold?

Here are examples of absolute threshold for each of the five senses: Vision – A candle flame 30 miles away. Hearing – A watch ticking 20 feet away. Smell – A drop of perfume in a 6-room house.

Beside above, what is an example of Weber’s law? Weber’s Law, more simply stated, says that the size of the just noticeable difference is a constant proportion of the original stimulus value. For example: Suppose that you presented two spots of light each with an intensity of 100 units to an observer.

Also Know, what is the difference between absolute and difference thresholds?

The absolute threshold is the minimum amount of stimulation required for a person to detect the stimulus 50 percent of the time. The difference threshold is the smallest difference in stimulation that can be detected 50 percent of the time.

What is a difference threshold quizlet?

the view point that both stimulus intensity and decision-making process and involved in the detection of a stimulus. Difference Threshold. the smallest amount of change between two stimuli that a person can detect half of the time.

Research Focus: Influence Without Awareness

If you study Figure 4.5 “Absolute Threshold”, you will see that the absolute threshold is the point where we become aware of a faint stimulus. After that point, we say that the stimulus is conscious because we can accurately report on its existence better than 50% of the time. But can subliminal stimuliStimuli that are below the absolute threshold and of which we are not conscious. have an influence on our behavior?

Figure 4.5 Absolute Threshold

As the intensity of a stimulus increases, we are more likely to perceive it. Stimuli below the absolute threshold can still have at least some influence on us, even though we cannot consciously detect them.

Then the students were asked to indicate their intention to drink Lipton Ice by answering questions such as If you would sit on a terrace now, how likely is it that you would order Lipton Ice, and also to indicate how thirsty they were at the time. The researchers found that the students who had been exposed to the Lipton Ice words were significantly more likely to say that they would drink Lipton Ice than were those who had been exposed to the control words.

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Observations About Webers Law

Whether we can detect a change in the strength of a stimulus depends on the intensity of the original stimulus. For example, if you are holding a pebble , you will notice an increase in weight if a second pebble is placed in your hand. But if you start off holding a very heavy rock , you probably wont detect an increase in weight when the same pebble is balanced on it. What Webers law underscores is that our psychological experience of sensation is relative. There is no simple, one-to-one correspondence between the objective characteristics of a physical stimulus, such as the weight of a pebble, and our psychological experience of it


Dig Deeper: Unconscious Perception

2015 MCAT Psychology (3) – Difference Threshold & Weber’s Law

These days, most scientific research on unconscious processes is aimed at showing that people do not need consciousness for certain psychological processes or behaviors. One such example is attitude formation. The most basic process of attitude formation is through mere exposure . Merely perceiving a stimulus repeatedly, such as a brand on a billboard one passes every day or a song that is played on the radio frequently, renders it more positive. Interestingly, mere exposure does not require conscious awareness of the object of an attitude. In fact, mere-exposure effects occur even when novel stimuli are presented subliminally for extremely brief durations . Intriguingly, in such subliminal mere-exposure experiments, participants indicate a preference for, or a positive attitude towards, stimuli they do not consciously remember being exposed to.

Such priming effects have been shown in many different domains. For example, Dijksterhuis and van Knippenberg demonstrated that priming can improve intellectual performance. They asked their participants to answer 42 general knowledge questions taken from the game Trivial Pursuit. Under normal conditions, participants answered about 50% of the questions correctly. However, participants primed with the stereotype of professorswho are by most people seen as intelligentmanaged to answer 60% of the questions correctly. Conversely, performance of participants primed with the dumb stereotype of hooligans dropped to 40%.

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Understanding The Difference Threshold Better

On the hearing, the difference threshold may seem quite similar to the absolute threshold, but these are two different concepts.

The absolute threshold is the lowest level of stimulation that a person can discern 50% of the time.

An example of absolute threshold is when a gong is hit from a far distance and a person who is far away from it tells if he can hear the sound from the farthest distance possible.

Suppose he cant hear as he is too far. He then makes a few steps towards the gong to determine if he can hear the sound.

For a good distance, he may not be able to hear the sound of the gong but as he gets closer, it becomes audible.

As he keeps coming towards the gong, the lowest level of sound he can hear when he is as far as possible is the absolute threshold.

On the other hand, the difference threshold is the amount of change that is required for a person to perceive a difference in a stimulation 50% of the time.

This is where a change is taking place but it is so toned down that you cannot detect it. But as it keeps happening, your senses are able to make a detection of the change at a certain point.

That certain point is the difference threshold.

As earlier said, the difference threshold involves all senses. Lets take a look at an example of the difference threshold with each of the 5 human senses.

The difference threshold in vision

The difference threshold in vision is the amount of change that you require to sense a difference in something, visually.

Comparison Table Between Absolute Threshold And Difference Threshold

Parameters of Comparison
Absolute threshold varies among different people, and between people and animals as well. There is only a slight variation between the difference threshold of different people.
Example The minimum distance at which a person can see a candle burning clearly. The minimum amount of difference in the distance required for a person to notice the change in position.

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Measuring And Testing Sensory Thresholds

Defining and measuring sensory thresholds requires setting the sensitivity limit such that the perception observations lead to the absolute threshold. The level of sensitivity is usually assumed to be constant in determining the threshold limit. There are three common methods used to determine sensory thresholds:

  • Method of Limits:
    In the first step, the subject is stimulated by strong, easily detectable stimuli that are decreased stepwise until they cannot detect the stimulus. Then another stimulation sequence is applied called ascending sequence. In this sequence, stimulus intensity increases from subthreshold to easily detectable. Both sequences are repeated several times. This yields several momentary threshold values. In the following step, mean values are calculated for ascending and descending sequences separately. The mean value will be lower for descending sequences. In case of audiometry, the difference of the means in case of ascending vs. descending sequences has a diagnostic importance. In the final step, average of the previously calculated means will result the absolute threshold.
  • Peculiarities Of Institutional Agents

    AP sensation perception

    It is true that practical agents often struggle with the problem of straitened cognitive resources. In giving this matter its due emphasis, we would not wish to leave the impression that institutional agents are invariably better off in this regard. Consider the case of the empirical sciences. Everything that is currently known of the history of science attests to the presence of an endemic discouragement, known as the law of logarithmic returns. The law provides that science acquires new information at a rate more or less proportional to what is spent to acquire it, but that the rise of new knowledge is proportional not with the quantity of new information, but rather with its logarithm. That is, putting KI as the quantity of knowledge embedded in a body of information, KI = logI. Accordingly,

    Proposition 2.9The law of logarithmic return

    Informational flow-through of eponentially increasing magnitude is required for cognitive outputs at arithmetically increasing levels5

    In our brief treatment of them here, we have been concentrating on what theoretical or institutional agents have in common. But there are differences which matter greatly for their respective cognitive wherewithal. We have the space to make glancing reference to just one of these important differences. This is the difference between and committees. Neither of these is immune from corrosions that taint their cognitive behaviour. But in a rough and ready way, markets outperform committees.

    According to ,

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    Main Differences Between Absolute Threshold And Difference Threshold

  • Absolute threshold is the minimum amount of intensity required for one to be able to detect a stimulus while difference threshold is the minimum amount of difference in intensity required for one to be able to detect a change.
  • Unlike difference threshold, absolute threshold does not involve any change in the intensity of the stimulus.
  • Absolute threshold determines the minimum value of intensity while difference threshold determines the value of change of intensity.
  • Absolute threshold varies largely from person to person as well as animals, whereas, there is only a slight variation in the difference threshold of different people.
  • Absolute threshold is the minimum amount of volume at which a person can detect sound. On the other hand, difference threshold is the minimum amount of change in the volume for a person to detect it.
  • What Is Difference Threshold

    Difference threshold is the minimum amount of difference required in the intensity of a stimulus for an individual to be able to perceive or detect a change. It is also referred to as Just Noticeable Change . Like absolute threshold, a person should be able to detect the same value at least fifty percent of the time.

    Some examples of difference threshold are the smallest increment in the intensity of sound for one to detect a change in the televisions volume, the minimum amount of distance at which a person can see an object clearly, the minimum amount of heat required for one to feel that the food is hot, and so on.

    Webers law is a significant law of psychology that quantifies the detection of change regarding a certain stimulus. According to the law, as the intensity of a stimulus increases, it becomes more and more difficult to perceive a change or difference. For example, if the volume of a television set is already very high, it would be difficult for a person to detect whether or not the volume has been increased further.

    To have a clear understanding of Webers law, imagine a television set which is playing at volume 5. Now, if it changed to volume 10 , the difference in sound will be noticeable. However, the change in sound between volume 50 and 55 will not be of the same value. For a person to be able to notice it, volume 50 will need to be changed to volume 100 .

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    The Absolute Threshold For Smell

    The absolute threshold for scent is the minimum level of a concentration of the person can smell. For example researchers might release small levels of a scent into a room to see if a participant can detect the smell. Factors that might impact the absolute threshold in this case include the strength of the scent, the size of the room, and any other scents that might be present.

    What Are Sensory Thresholds

    Absolute Threshold, Difference Threshold And Weber’s Law

    The sensory thresholds refer to the degree to which a subject reacts to a given stimulus , taking into account the intensity required to notice it and for it to become annoying, among other parameters.

    This is determined by the magnitude that exists between so-called thresholds, which are composed of minimum and maximum thresholds. The lower a persons threshold for a specific stimulus, the less tolerance he or she will have to it. The opposite occurs when the tolerance threshold is high in this case the subject presents a high tolerance to the stimulus, and may even be hyposensitive to it.

    It can be understood then that the sensory thresholds are basically the margins of our sensations .

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    Sensation And Perception On The Exam

    On the exam, you might be asked to define and compare both thresholds, stating how they can be applied to a concrete situation. For example, describe how each one could be used in the development of a new set of speakers and headphones.

    Now that youve mastered this AP® Psychology Crash Course Review, you could answer that the absolute threshold can be used to set the minimum volume, as it would be pointless to insert a volume that nearly nobody can hear. The difference threshold can be used to set a smart, user-friendly system in which a raise in each volume bar would be perceived as a constant increase in volume because it would be proportional to the previous amount, just as stated in Webers Law.

    However, it is also possible that you encounter a broader question on the topic of Sensation and Perception, like this one:

    Describe the psychological concept of expectancy or set. Discuss a specific example of how each expectancy or set affects each of the following.

    • Human perception

    A possible answer to this question is top-down processing, which influences our expectations and ultimately our perceptions. Another answer could refer to signal detection theory because it is easier for us to detect a stimulus if we are expecting it.

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