Physics - Psychophysics


  • Psychophysics is basically an interdisciplinary branch of psychology and physics; it studies the relationship between physical stimuli and the sensations along with the perceptions they produce.

  • The psychophysicists analyze the perceptual processes by studying the effect on a behavior; further, they also study the systematically varying properties of a stimulus along one or more physical dimensions.

  • The concept of psychophysics was first time used in 1860 by Gustav Theodor Fechner in Leipzig, Germany.

  • Fechner published his research namely ‘Elemente der Psychophysik’ (i.e. Elements of Psychophysics).

Terms of Psychophysics

  • Following are the commonly used terms in psychophysics −

    • Signal detection theory − It explains the interaction of the sensory capabilities and the decision making elements in detecting the stimulus.

    • ‘Ideal observer analysis − It is a technique for investigating i.e. how information has processed in a perceptual system.

    • Difference thresholds − It helps to differentiate two stimuli. This point is termed just-noticeable difference.

    • Absolute threshold − The point at which the person first detects the stimulus strength i.e. presence of stimulus.

    • Scaling − It uses rating scales to allocate relative values.

Modern Approaches of Psychophysicists

  • Modern Psychophysicists research on −

    • Vision

    • Hearing

    • Touch (or sense)

  • Based on these, psychophysicists measure what the perceiver's decision extracts from the stimulus.

Application of Psychophysicists

  • In the present world, psychophysics is commonly applied to treat many of psychological problems.