A Psychophysics Paradigm for the Collection and Analysis of Similarity Judgments.

TitleA Psychophysics Paradigm for the Collection and Analysis of Similarity Judgments.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsWaraich SA, Victor JD
JournalJ Vis Exp
Date Published2022 03 01
KeywordsJudgment, Psychophysics

Similarity judgments are commonly used to study mental representations and their neural correlates. This approach has been used to characterize perceptual spaces in many domains: colors, objects, images, words, and sounds. Ideally, one might want to compare estimates of perceived similarity between all pairs of stimuli, but this is often impractical. For example, if one asks a subject to compare the similarity of two items with the similarity of two other items, the number of comparisons grows with the fourth power of the stimulus set size. An alternative strategy is to ask a subject to rate similarities of isolated pairs, e.g., on a Likert scale. This is much more efficient (the number of ratings grows quadratically with set size rather than quartically), but these ratings tend to be unstable and have limited resolution, and the approach also assumes that there are no context effects. Here, a novel ranking paradigm for efficient collection of similarity judgments is presented, along with an analysis pipeline (software provided) that tests whether Euclidean distance models account for the data. Typical trials consist of eight stimuli around a central reference stimulus: the subject ranks stimuli in order of their similarity to the reference. By judicious selection of combinations of stimuli used in each trial, the approach has internal controls for consistency and context effects. The approach was validated for stimuli drawn from Euclidean spaces of up to five dimensions. The approach is illustrated with an experiment measuring similarities among 37 words. Each trial yields the results of 28 pairwise comparisons of the form, "Was A more similar to the reference than B was to the reference?" While directly comparing all pairs of pairs of stimuli would have required 221445 trials, this design enables reconstruction of the perceptual space from 5994 such comparisons obtained from 222 trials.

Alternate JournalJ Vis Exp
PubMed ID35311825