In this online tutorial, we will investigate how we can measure how people perceive the world. We will be focusing on a framework called signal detection theory, which is a method that allows us to measure the sensitivity to particular visual stimulation. We will concentrate on the perception of motion.

Learning outcomes

This primary learning outcome that is addressed in this tutorial is for you to be able to:

This tutorial also expands on the following learning outcomes, which have been (or will be) covered in lectures:

Tutorial structure

In this tutorial, we are interested in understanding how we can measure aspects of our visual perception. This involves the rich body of methods and techniques known as psychophysics — the relationship between the psychological and the physical — that allows us to investigate a range of perceptual experiences.

We will cover the following content in this tutorial:

Physical aspects
First, we need to consider the physical side — what are the physical characteristics of the stimulation we are investigating? We will use motion as our example physical stimulus.
Psychological aspects
Then, we need to consider the psychological side — how does the physical stimulation affect our sensory systems and produce psychological responses? We will discuss some strategies for measuring perceptual sensitivity, particular via the framework of signal detection theory.
We will then do an example 'experiment', in which you will measure your motion detection sensitivity.
Mechanisms for sensitivity
Having considered the physical and the psychological aspects of measuring perception, we will then investigate how these two elements are related — that is, we will consider the mechanisms that underpin perceptual sensitivity.
Case study
We will then move outside the motion domain to consider a published example of signal detection theory being used in applied perception research.
Alternative designs
We will then discuss the use of different experimental designs, and their advantages, for investigating perceptual sensitivity.
Application in sport
Finally, we will finish by looking at a few examples where perceptual decision making and signal detection theory can be applied in the sporting arena.

What to do

The tutorial is organised in a set of sections. They build on one another, so it is best if you work through them in order. Some will require you to interact with graphs, and some will require you to note down your perception of patterns shown in videos.

How long to devote

Although this is an asynchronous tutorial, the intention is that it is no less substantial than your regular synchronous tutorials. As such, you should expect to devote the usual amount of time (around 1 hour and 45 minutes or so) to working through this online tutorial.