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Human Factors: Hyman 1953
Hick_Hyman.zip
Hyman, R. (1953). Stimulus information as a determinant of reaction time. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 45, 188-196. (pdf)
 
This study uses information theory to explain why larger numbers of choices increase reaction time (a phenomenon described by the Hick Hyman Law). For instance, a four-choice reaction-time task will take longer than a two-choice task.
Welford 1968
Hick, W.E. On the rate of gain of information. Quart. J. exp. Psychol., 1952, 4, 11-26.

Merkel, J. Die zeitlichen Verhaltnisse der Willensthatigkeit. Philos. St., 1885, 2, 73-127.

Shannon, C.E., & Weaver, W. The mathematical theory of communication. Urbana: Univer. of Illinois Press, 1949.

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Though studies of the relation between reaction time (RT) and the number of stimuli or responses from which to choose dates back to at least 1885, Hick (Quarterly J. Exp. Psych., 1952, 4, 11-26) and, separately, Hyman (J. Exp. Psych., 1953, 45, 188-196) argued that RT increases linearly with the amount of information conveyed by the number of choices.  Thus, a binary (two-valued, yes/no) response has one bit of information, while a four-choice response has two bits, etc.).  In this experiment, subjects must choose between two, three, or four responses, in separate blocks of the experiment.

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{Data Instructions}
 

12-Mar-2002

Brian MacWhinney