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Thurstone's general model begins with a set of elements called discriminal processes. Each element has a value on a postulated, underlying psychological continuum. Presentation of a stimulus to a subject results in arousal of a discriminal process. Different presentations of the same stimulus may arouse different discriminal processes— there is thus no one-to-one relation between the two. Rather, a distribution of discriminal processes is associated with each stimulus. Presentation of a stimulus is equivalent to sampling a discriminal process from the distribution associated with that stimulus.

In the variability models, the discriminability of the stimuli, or the variability of judgment with respect to the stimuli, is used as the basis for deriving the higher-level metric scale properties. In the quantitative judgment models, the additional metric properties are obtained directly from the quantitative aspects of the judgments themselves. Variability models. Perhaps the best-known variability model is that developed by Thurstone (1927). Thurstone's general model begins with a set of elements called discriminal processes.

The characterization of scale type by admissible transformations is simply a compact way of stating the particular restrictions imposed. But scaling procedures also differ markedly in the quality of information the numbers represent. At one extreme are measurement procedures that rely almost entirely on definition or assumption. An experimenter might simply define the attitude of a subject to be equal to the number of favorable responses he gives to a specified collection of items. Such measurement by fiat has been both useful and common throughout the behavioral sciences.

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International encyclopedia of the social sciences volume 14 by edited by David L. Sills


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