Toward a psychophysics of perceptual organization using multistable stimuli and phenomenal reports

Axiomathes 13 (3-4):283-302 (2003)
We explore experimental methods used to study the phenomena of perceptual organization, first studied by the Gestalt psychologists. We describe an application of traditional psychophysics to perceptual organization and offer alternative methods. Among these, we distinguish two approaches that use multistable stimuli: (1) phenomenological psychophysics, in which the observer's response is assumed to accurately and directly reflect perceptual experience; and (2) the interference paradigm, in which an observer's response is evaluated as correct or incorrect because it pertains to a corrigible task, but does not directly reflect the observer's experience. We show that phenomenological psychophysics can yield valuable information about perceptual organization and lends itself to the development of quantitative theory. We discuss some criticisms of the method and argue that the two approaches that use multistable stimuli are complementary. We also compare each of the approaches with traditional psychophysics. We conclude that the several methods are convergent
Keywords Perceptual organization  Gestalt grouping  Texture segregation  Multistability  Psychophysics  Phenomenal report
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