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Continuum Exponent (<math>a</math>) Stimulus condition
Loudness 0.67 Sound pressure of 3000 Hz tone
Vibration 0.95 Amplitude of 60 Hz on finger
Vibration 0.6 Amplitude of 250 Hz on finger
Brightness 0.33 5° target in dark
Brightness 0.5 Point source
Brightness 0.5 Brief flash
Brightness 1 Point source briefly flashed
Lightness 1.2 Reflectance of gray papers
Visual length 1 Projected line
Visual area 0.7 Projected square
Redness (saturation) 1.7 Red-gray mixture
Taste 1.3 Sucrose
Taste 1.4 Salt
Taste 0.8 Saccharin
Smell 0.6 Heptane
Cold 1 Metal contact on arm
Warmth 1.6 Metal contact on arm
Warmth 1.3 Irradiation of skin, small area
Warmth 0.7 Irradiation of skin, large area
Discomfort, cold 1.7 Whole body irradiation
Discomfort, warm 0.7 Whole body irradiation
Thermal pain 1 Radiant heat on skin
Tactual roughness 1.5 Rubbing emery cloths
Tactual hardness 0.8 Squeezing rubber
Finger span 1.3 Thickness of blocks
Pressure on palm 1.1 Static force on skin
Muscle force 1.7 Static contractions
Heaviness 1.45 Lifted weights
Viscosity 0.42 Stirring silicone fluids
Electric shock 3.5 Current through fingers
Vocal effort 1.1 Vocal sound pressure
Angular acceleration 1.4 5 s rotation
Duration 1.1 White noise stimuli

Stevens' power law is a proposed relationship between the magnitude of a physical stimulus and its perceived intensity or strength. It is often considered to supersede the Weber–Fechner law on the basis that it describes a wider range of sensations, although critics argue that the validity of the law is contingent on the virtue of approaches to the measurement of perceived intensity that are employed in relevant experiments. In addition, a distinction has been made between (i) local psychophysics, where stimuli are discriminated only with a certain probability, and (ii) global psychophysics, where the stimuli would be discriminated correctly with near certainty (Luce & Krumhansl, 1988). The Weber–Fechner law and methods described by L.L. Thurstone are generally applied in local psychophysics, whereas Stevens' methods are usually applied in global psychophysics.

The theory is named after psychophysicist Stanley Smith Stevens (1906–1973). Although the idea of a power law had been suggested by 19th-century researchers, Stevens is credited with reviving the law and publishing a body of psychophysical data to support it in 1957.

The general form of the law is

<math>\psi(I) = k I ^a , \,\!</math>

where <math>I</math> is the magnitude of the physical stimulus, ψ(I) is the subjective magnitude of the sensation evoked by the stimulus, a is an exponent that depends on the type of stimulation and k is a proportionality constant that depends on the units used.

The table to the right lists the exponents reported by Stevens.


Stevens' power law sections
Intro  Methods  Criticisms  See also  References  

PREVIOUS: IntroNEXT: Methods
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First::power    Journal::stevens    Stimulus::issue    ''y''::title    Pages::volume    Times::''z''

Continuum Exponent (<math>a</math>) Stimulus condition
Loudness 0.67 Sound pressure of 3000 Hz tone
Vibration 0.95 Amplitude of 60 Hz on finger
Vibration 0.6 Amplitude of 250 Hz on finger
Brightness 0.33 5° target in dark
Brightness 0.5 Point source
Brightness 0.5 Brief flash
Brightness 1 Point source briefly flashed
Lightness 1.2 Reflectance of gray papers
Visual length 1 Projected line
Visual area 0.7 Projected square
Redness (saturation) 1.7 Red-gray mixture
Taste 1.3 Sucrose
Taste 1.4 Salt
Taste 0.8 Saccharin
Smell 0.6 Heptane
Cold 1 Metal contact on arm
Warmth 1.6 Metal contact on arm
Warmth 1.3 Irradiation of skin, small area
Warmth 0.7 Irradiation of skin, large area
Discomfort, cold 1.7 Whole body irradiation
Discomfort, warm 0.7 Whole body irradiation
Thermal pain 1 Radiant heat on skin
Tactual roughness 1.5 Rubbing emery cloths
Tactual hardness 0.8 Squeezing rubber
Finger span 1.3 Thickness of blocks
Pressure on palm 1.1 Static force on skin
Muscle force 1.7 Static contractions
Heaviness 1.45 Lifted weights
Viscosity 0.42 Stirring silicone fluids
Electric shock 3.5 Current through fingers
Vocal effort 1.1 Vocal sound pressure
Angular acceleration 1.4 5 s rotation
Duration 1.1 White noise stimuli

Stevens' power law is a proposed relationship between the magnitude of a physical stimulus and its perceived intensity or strength. It is often considered to supersede the Weber–Fechner law on the basis that it describes a wider range of sensations, although critics argue that the validity of the law is contingent on the virtue of approaches to the measurement of perceived intensity that are employed in relevant experiments. In addition, a distinction has been made between (i) local psychophysics, where stimuli are discriminated only with a certain probability, and (ii) global psychophysics, where the stimuli would be discriminated correctly with near certainty (Luce & Krumhansl, 1988). The Weber–Fechner law and methods described by L.L. Thurstone are generally applied in local psychophysics, whereas Stevens' methods are usually applied in global psychophysics.

The theory is named after psychophysicist Stanley Smith Stevens (1906–1973). Although the idea of a power law had been suggested by 19th-century researchers, Stevens is credited with reviving the law and publishing a body of psychophysical data to support it in 1957.

The general form of the law is

<math>\psi(I) = k I ^a , \,\!</math>

where <math>I</math> is the magnitude of the physical stimulus, ψ(I) is the subjective magnitude of the sensation evoked by the stimulus, a is an exponent that depends on the type of stimulation and k is a proportionality constant that depends on the units used.

The table to the right lists the exponents reported by Stevens.


Stevens' power law sections
Intro  Methods  Criticisms  See also  References  

PREVIOUS: IntroNEXT: Methods
<<>>