Experimental Methodology

Pisoni and Lazarus (1974) Response

The purpose of this assignment is to dive deeper into experimental methodology, and consider how subtle differences in tasks and stimuli design can lead to different findings. It is also an opportunity to practice interpreting results from figures and to identify the patterns of responses associated with categorical vs. continuous perception.
A recurrent theme in psycholinguistics (and psychology) research is the question of how specific experimental tasks influence human responses in ways that may be tangential, or confounding, to the hypotheses being tested. While researchers have used a variety of tasks to test whether infant, child, and adult participants are sensitive to categorical linguistic boundaries, these all diverge from naturalistic language processing. Even unnatural processing of language may give us important insights into cognitive representations and processes, but different tasks may provide different kinds of insights, so it is important to moderate our assumptions about what these studies reveal about language.

Pisoni and Lazarus (1974) investigate these questions from the domain of categorical perception in English. They hypothesized that participants would perform better auditory/continuous (non-categorical) discrimination if stimuli were presented in an acoustically ordered sequence without an explicit identification task, as compared with random ordering of stimuli. They also expected that a task called the ABX task would show more categorical responses than another task (4IAX) due to contrasts in what participants must attend to most to complete the task response.
This is the bibliographic information for the paper:
Pisoni, D. B., & Lazarus, J. H. (1974). Categorical and noncategorical modes of speech perception along the voicing continuum. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 55(2), 328–333. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.1914506 (Links to an external site.)
You can download and read that reading on the file that I sent you.
File name: “Reading- Pisoni, D. B., & Lazarus(1974)”-this is the reading material for this assignments

If you have no linguistic background, and no background in these types of experiments, some details of this paper are going to be pretty obscure. You don’t need to understand every detail (and for this assignment we will not focus on the statistical analyses in the paper, but more on interpreting the figures), but the aim is to extract the important conceptual pieces and features of the experimental designs, and to understand how they relate to the topics we are covering in class. -(I will provide the PowerPoint slides that helps you to understand this assignment)

Basic Assignment:
For this assignment, you should read the complete paper referenced above, and write a 250-500 word response (not including references) addressing all of the following questions:
• What is the difference between continuous and categorical perception?
• Describe the ABX and 4IAX tasks.
• How do these tasks test for categorical vs. continuous perception generally? For example, if you were conducting an experiment with these tasks on another phonetic pair, what pattern of results from an ABX or 4IAX task would be interpreted as showing categorical perception, and what results would be interpreted as continuous perception? You can refer to figures in Pisoni and Lazarus (2010) or results from other studies in the reading or lectures if that helps to explain.
• Focusing on the 2-step results, what do the results visualized in Figure 2 demonstrate about discrimination in the random order groups?
• Again focusing on 2-step results, what do the results visualized in Figure 3 suggest about the differences between ABX and 4IAX tasks, and the differences between random and sequential stimuli presentation?

Other details:
You can use your textbook, notes, and other outside materials to help you answer these questions if needed. All sources used and cited should be reliable scientific sources and you should make sure to cite them clearly (in the text and include bibliographic information in the references section). Use quotation marks when including direct quotes (when absolutely necessary to quote). Write in your own words as much as possible – quotations should only be used to convey a specific phrasing you need to preserve from an original source.

Aim to write these in a roughly “academic” style of English, but we will not be grading you based on your language use, as long as you make your points clear. When you need to cite sources, we are not too concerned about the formatting, but make sure the relevant information is included and use APA style or similar for any references (without stressing about exactly where each ‘period’ and ‘parenthesis’ goes, what is supposed to be italicized and such – mostly make sure the critical bibliographic content is there). You do not need to submit an “APA style paper” with title page, abstract, etc – we just suggest this as a guideline for formatting the citations/references.

Important points to keep in mind for assignments!
➔ Write in academic style.
◆ If you need to cite any other sources, make sure the relevant information is included.
◆ Use APA style for any references. We are not too concerned about the formatting other than that.
➔ Do NOT copy and paste from the article. Use your own words when answering the questions.
➔ Make sure to fully answer the questions, do not leave any parts.

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