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Nonetheless, such a difference has been claimed by other authors, in both directions. The American Standard conference poll concluded:

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Fortunately, there are a few data on what happens when we make absolute judgments of stimuli that differ from one another in several ways. Let us look first at the results Klemmer and Frick [13] have reported for the absolute judgment of the position of a dot in a square.

Now the channel capacity seems to have increased to 4. Data from Klemmer and Frick [13] on the channel capacity for absolute judgments of the position of a dot in a square.

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The position of a dot in a square is clearly a two-dimensional proposition. Both its horizontal and its vertical position must be identified. Thus it seems natural to compare the 4. The point in the square requires two judgments of the interval type.

If we have a capacity of 3. Adding the second independent dimension gives us an increase from 3. When they asked people to identify both the saltiness and the sweetness of solutions containing various concentrations of salt and sucrose, they found that the channel capacity was 2.

Since the capacity for salt alone was 1. As with spatial locations, the second dimension adds a little to the capacity but not as much as it conceivably might.

A third example is provided by Pollack [18]who asked listeners to judge both the loudness and the pitch of pure tones. Since pitch gives 2. A fourth example can be drawn from the work of Halsey and Chapanis [9] on confusions among colors of equal luminance.

Although they did not analyze their results in informational terms, they estimate that there are about 11 to 15 identifiable colors, or, in our terms, about 3.

Since these colors varied in both hue and saturation, it is probably correct to regard this as a two-dimensional judgment.

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If we compare this with Eriksen's 3. It is still a long way, however, from these two-dimensional examples to the multidimensional stimuli provided by faces, words, etc.

To fill this gap we have only one experiment, an auditory study done by Pollack and Ficks [19]. They managed to get six different acoustic variables that they could change: Each one of these six variables could assume any one of five different values, so altogether there were 56, or 15, different tones that they could present.

The listeners made a separate rating for each one of these six dimensions. Under these conditions the transmitted information was 7. Now we are beginning to get up into the range that ordinary experience would lead us to expect.

Suppose that we plot these data, fragmentary as they are, and make a guess about how the channel capacity changes with the dimensionality of the stimuli.

The result is given in Fig. In a moment of considerable daring I sketched the dotted line to indicate roughly the trend that the data seemed to be taking.

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The general form of the relation between channel capacity and the number of independently variable attributes of the stimuli.

Clearly, the addition of independently variable attributes to the stimulus increases the channel capacity, but at a decreasing rate. It is interesting to note that the channel capacity is increased even when the several variables are not independent.

Eriksen [5] reports that, when size, brightness, and hue all vary together in perfect correlation, the transmitted information is 4. By confounding three attributes, Eriksen increased the dimensionality of the input without increasing the amount of input information; the result was an increase in channel capacity of about the amount that the dotted function in Fig.

The point seems to be that, as we add more variables to the display, we increase the total capacity, but we decrease the accuracy for any particular variable. In other words, we can make relatively crude judgments of several things simultaneously. We might argue that in the course of evolution those organisms were most successful that were responsive to the widest range of stimulus energies in their environment.

In order to survive in a constantly fluctuating world, it was better to have a little information about a lot of things than to have a lot of information about a small segment of the environment. If a compromise was necessary, the one we seem to have made is clearly the more adaptive.

Pollack and Ficks's results are very strongly suggestive of an argument that linguists and phoneticians have been making for some time [19]. According to the linguistic analysis of the sounds of human speech, there are about eight or ten dimensions -- the linguists call them distinctive features -- that distinguish one phoneme from another.

These distinctive features are usually binary, or at most ternary, in nature.

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