Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 757 pages of information about Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1.

Two rhythm forms only were tested, the trochaic and dactylic, since without an actual prolongation of considerable value in the interval following the louder sound, at the outset, no apprehension of the series as iambic or anapaestic could be brought about.  The stimuli were given by mechanism number 4, the distance of fall being 2/8 and 7/8 inch respectively for unaccented and accented sounds.  The series of changes included extreme proportional values of 0.714 and 1.769 in duration of the two intervals.  Six persons took part in the investigation.  In the following table is given the percentage of cases in which the interval following the unaccented element was judged respectively greater than, equal to, or less than that which followed the accented element, for each of the series of ratios presented by the time-values of the intervals in trochaic rhythm.


Ration of Unaccented to     Unaccented Interval Judged to be
Accented Interval.       +                 =              —
1.000 :  1.769         0.0 per cent.   100.0 per cent   0.0 per cent.
1.000 :  1.571        12.5    "         50.0    "      37.5    "
1.000 :  1.400        22.0    "         56.0    "      22.0    "
1.000 :  1.222        16.0    "         84.0    "
1.000 :  1.118        26.0    "         74.0    "
1.000 :  1.000        61.6    "         38.4    "
1.000 :  0.895       100.0    "
1.000 :  0.800        88.8    "         11.2    "
1.000 :  0.714       100.0    "

The anomalous percentage which appears in the first horizontal row needs explanation.  The limit of possible differentiation in the time-values of accented and unaccented intervals in a rhythmical group is characteristically manifested, not by the rise of a perception of the greater duration of the interval following the accented element, but through an inversion of the rhythmical figure, the original trochee disappearing and giving place to an iambic form of grouping, the dactyl being replaced by an anapaest.  In the case in question the inversion had taken place for all subjects but one, in whom the original trochaic form, together with its typical distribution of intervals, remained unchanged even with such a great actual disparity as is here involved.

For this group of observers and for the series of intensities taken account of in the present experiment, the distribution of time-values necessary to support psychological uniformity lies near to the ratio 1.400:1.000 for accented and unaccented intervals respectively, since here the distribution of errors in judgment is arranged symmetrically about the indifference point.  Overestimation of the interval following the louder sound appears by no means invariable.  Under conditions of objective uniformity the judgment of equality was given in 38.4 per cent, of all cases.  This cannot be baldly interpreted as a persistence of the capacity for correct estimation of the time values of the two

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Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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