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David-Elias Künstle, Ulrike von Luxburg, Felix A. Wichmann; Estimating the perceived dimension of psychophysical stimuli using triplet accuracy and hypothesis testing. Journal of Vision 2022;22(13):5. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.13.5.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Vision researchers are interested in mapping complex physical stimuli to perceptual dimensions. Such a mapping can be constructed using multidimensional psychophysical scaling or ordinal embedding methods. Both methods infer coordinates that agree as much as possible with the observer’s judgments so that perceived similarity corresponds with distance in the inferred space. However, a fundamental problem of all methods that construct scalings in multiple dimensions is that the inferred representation can only reflect perception if the scale has the correct dimension. Here we propose a statistical procedure to overcome this limitation. The critical elements of our procedure are i) measuring the scale’s quality by the number of correctly predicted triplets and ii) performing a statistical test to assess if adding another dimension to the scale improves triplet accuracy significantly. We validate our procedure through extensive simulations. In addition, we study the properties and limitations of our procedure using “real” data from various behavioral datasets from psychophysical experiments. We conclude that our procedure can reliably identify (a lower bound on) the number of perceptual dimensions for a given dataset.
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