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Title:Magnitude Categories in Relative Magnitude Knowledge
Author(s):Wilson, Thomas Lambert
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Shoben, Edward J.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Psychobiology
Psychology, Experimental
Abstract:The study of human comparative judgment has historically provided a forum for investigating the nature and processing of relative magnitude knowledge. Several approaches to the representation of relative magnitude information in memory have proposed that stimulus magnitude is coded in terms of the quantitative value of the stimulus along a given physical or conceptual dimension. The present thesis argues that the representation of symbolic magnitude in terms of magnitude categories provides a more satisfactory theoretical explanation of mental comparison phenomena. A review of the literature on the psychology of comparative judgment is presented along with recent empirical evidence for the influence of categorization on comparison time. Five studies are then described that investigate the specific role of categorization during comparisons of relative magnitude. Experiments 1 and 2 provide evidence that the difficulty of stimulus magnitude categorization has a direct influence on comparative judgment time as does the temporal order in which the items under comparison are encoded. The possibility that some stimulus item factors are confounded with the evinced effects of magnitude categorization is ruled out in Experiment 3. Experiment 4 demonstrates that the time to evaluate the relative magnitude of an item-pair can vary as a function of the context provided by the first item presented. Finally, Experiment 5 furnishes additional evidence for the mutual influence of the magnitude categorization of each item. Evidence is also found that the categorization of one member of an item-pair can be influenced by the categorization of the other member of the pair. The results of the present research, combined with other recent findings in comparative judgment, lend competitive support to the view that relative magnitude knowledge is best represented in terms of the qualitative information in memory associated with the magnitude categories of items under comparison. The retrieval of this categorical information is apparently requisite for the derivation and evaluation of relative magnitude. Some discussion of the implications of these data for standard theories of comparative judgment is presented along with an alternative account that involves the categorization of stimulus items into magnitude categories.
Issue Date:1993
Description:152 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9329200
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1993

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