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Sensation and Perception: Helson and Bevan 1964
Helson, H., and Bevan, W. (1964). An investigation of variables in judgments of relative area. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67(4), 335-341. (pdf)
This experiment was concerned with finding out how good people were at estimating, for instance, the area taken up by type on a printed page. It used black rectangles that were a particular percentage of a white rectangle, and asked participants to say what percentage they thought the black rectangle occupied.

Anastasi, A. The estimation of area. J. gen. Psychol., 1936, 14, 201-225.

Bevan, W. & Dukes, W. F. Color as a variable in the judgment of size. Amer. J. Psychol., 1953, 66, 283-288.

Bevan, W., Pritchard, J. F., & Reed, W. G. Single-stimulus judgments of loudness as a function of presentation interval. Amer. J. Psychol., 1962, 75, 612-618.

Helson, H. Adaptation level as frame of reference for prediction of psychophysical data. Amer. J. Psychol., 1947, 60, 1-29.

Hollingworth, H. L. The central tendency of judgment. J. Phil., 1910, 7, 461-469.

Paterson, D. G. & Tinker, M. A. The part-whole proportion illusion in printing. J. appl. Psychol., 1938, 22, 421-425.

Peters, W. Versuch ueber den Einfluss der Form auf die Wahrnehmung der Flaechengroesse. Z. Psychol., 1933, 129, 323-337.

Piaget, J. The psychology of intelligence. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1947.

Trumbo, D. A., Adams, C. A., Milner, M., & Schipper, L., Reliability and accuracy in the inspection of hard red winter wheat. Cereal Sci. Today, 1962, 7, 62-71.

Witkin, H. A., Lewis, H. B., Hertzman, M., Machover, K., Bretnall, P. M., & Wapner, S. Personality through perception. New York: Harper, 1954.

{Cited By}
In 6 different experiments the part-whole proportion illusion reported by Paterson and Tinker was confirmed. The absolute error was most pronounced with proportions of intermediate magnitude but the relative error was gereatest with smallest proportions of central area to total area. The error was found to be essentially invariant with changes in the range of relative magnitudes, the orientation of the rectangular stimulus area, and overall field size. However, when a null method of measuring the illusion was employed, the error was severely reduced with an inflection point at a proportion of 70%. The importance of contextual factors in judgements of a relative area is indicated by an inverse relationship between judged size and overall field size of the stimulus series when the comparisons are made within Ss rather than across groups of Ss. This last finding has methodological importance in determining the role of contextual factors in judgement.
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{Data Instructions}


Brian MacWhinney