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The relationship between a subjective scale of size and autokinetic movement Ogilvie, John Charles


Experiments with the autokinetic phenomenon have shown that there are marked individual differences in the amount of autokinetic movement perceived. Recent evidence favours a central theory of autokinesis, that occurrence of movement is due to the lack of a perceptual frame of reference. This being so, individual differences will be determined by psychological rather than peripheral factors. In another context, it has been hypothesised that a subjective scale of size is a primitive feature of perception. If this concept is accepted, subjective scale will be an important factor in the amount of autokinetic movement seen, owing to the lack of structure of the perceptual situation. It is the purpose of this study to test the hypothesis that there is a relationship between subjective scale of size and autokinetic movement. Autokinesis was produced by having naive subjects, in a dark room, fixate a point of light. The subjects traced the apparent movement of the point of light during a five minute period. The total length of the tracing and the height and width of the pattern were measured. Although previously a similar method had been shown to give consistent results, a check of the test-retest consistency was performed independently of the main part of the experiment. The measurement of the individual's scale of size was obtained in the dark room under the same experimental conditions. The subject, by tracing a line, estimated the distance between two points of light, horizontal and vertical, varying distances apart. The various measures were inter correlated by rank order statistics. The results supported the hypothesis tested, since there was a statistically significant relationship between the total length of the autokinetic tracing and the vertical and horizontal estimates of length. In most of the autokinetic patterns, movement was horizontal rather than vertical and the patterns were consistent from trial to trial. The rank order of the subjects for the estimates of length did not vary significantly when the distances between the two points were varied or when the lines were horizontal or vertical.

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