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Extensions of Narens' theory of ratio magnitude estimation


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Thomas Augustin, Department of Psychology, University of Graz, Universitätsplatz 2/III, 8010 Graz, Austria (e-mail:


Stevens postulated that the responses of a participant in a ratio scaling experiment can be used directly to construct a psychophysical function. Today, it is generally accepted that the axioms of commutativity and multiplicativity are crucial for the interpretation of the subjects' ratio scaling behaviour. Empirical findings provide evidence that commutativity holds, whereas multiplicativity fails to hold across different sensory modalities. This shows that, in principle, Stevens' direct scaling methods yield measurements on a ratio scale level, but that the numerals occurring in a ratio scaling experiment cannot be taken at face value. Thus, Narens and others introduced a transformation function f, which converts the numerals used in an experiment into the latent mathematical numbers. The aim of the present paper is to specify the (unknown) shape of the transformation function f, by analysing different extensions of the multiplicative property. The results provide evidence that f is either a power function or a logarithmic function.