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Experimental Design: From User Studies to Psychophysics


As computers proliferate and as the field of computer graphics matures, it has become increasingly important for computer scientists to understand how users perceive and interpret computer graphics. Experimental Design: From User Studies to Psychophysics is an accessible introduction to psychological experiments and experimental design, covering the major components in the design, execution, and analysis of perceptual studies.


The book begins with an introduction to the concepts central to designing and understanding experiments, including developing a research question, setting conditions and controls, and balancing specificity with generality. The book then explores in detail a number of types of experimental tasks: free description, rating scales, forced-choice, specialized multiple choice, and real-world tasks as well as physiological studies. It discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each type and provides examples of that type of experiment from the authors’ own work. The book also covers stimulus-related issues, including popular stimulus resources. It concludes with a thorough examination of statistical techniques for analyzing results, including methods specific to individual tasks.


  1. Presents a wide range of experimental tasks, describing what types of questions each task can answer

  2. Includes real-world research examples

  3. Offers details on how to present stimuli, including how to use PsychToolBox

  4. Provides an annotated list of stimulus databases available to researchers

  5. Contains an in-depth statistics section that focuses on relevant tests for various task categories


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