Peter Karpiuk

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




S.W. Link


Wave Theory proposes that the relationship between sensation and feeling can be derived from a single theoretical foundation. The empirical evidence supporting this proposition is as of yet indirect: it is gleaned from comparative analysis of Weber Fractions and Stevens' exponents across numerous experiments of discrimination and magnitude estimation. Prior to examining the relationship, an extensive test of the assumptions and predictions of Wave Theory in the context of a discrimination task involving judgments of distance between successively presented pairs of dots was conducted. The primary purpose was to examine Wave Theory’s definition of sensation. This required the construction of symmetric stimuli which allow for analytic estimates of the model's parameters. The model was then tested by determining the correspondence between predicted and observed performance indices: response proportions and response times, and further between estimated response times and observed response proportions. The second experiment was conducted primarily to determine the empirical relationships among response proportions, response times, and magnitude estimates of the feeling of comparative distance. While the stimuli were again pairs of dots, the subjects also performed judgments of the magnitude of their perceived difference by squeezing hand held pressure sensitive devices. These judgments are inherent in the quantitative measure of feeling proposed by Wave Theory. The findings encouraged replication and consequently a more extensive experiment was carried out. This seminal work provides a comprehensive account of sensation and feeling and their empirical indices via Wave Theory analysis.

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