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The perceptual magnet effect in Australian English vowels

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Barbara Dodd


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Recent research (Kuhl, 1991) has suggested that the internal structure of vowel categories is graded in terms of stimulus goodness. It has been proposed that a best instance stimulus reflects a central point or prototype which effectively renders within-category members perceptually more similar. Discrimination experiments suggest a nonlinear relationship between acoustic and perceptual space near category center (Iverson & Kuhl, 1995b). This phenomenon has been described as perpetual magnet effect. The present study investigated the presence of the perceptual magnet effect in five Australian vowel categories. Australian English speakers identified, rated, and discriminated between a pool of 32 vowel stimuli that varied in F1 and F2 values. The results from Experiments 1 and 2 showed that subjects were able to judge the quality and identity of each stimulus and that a general grading of stimulus quality was reported. This was not symmetrical, and the subjects' responses varied considerably. In Experiment 3, closer control of the methodology in the discrimination task and of contextual factors influencing the test materials was exercised. Despite this, evidence of the warping of perceptual space in discrimination data was not found. In general, these results do not provide support for the existence of the perceptual magnet effect, and explanations for this finding are discussed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dodd B; Thyer N; Hickson L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Perception and Psychophysics

Year: 2000

Volume: 62

Issue: 1

Pages: 1-20

ISSN (print): 0031-5117

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: Springer New York LLC


DOI: 10.3758/BF03212057

PubMed id: 10703252


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