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Alphabetic Letter Identification: Effects of perceivability, similarity, and bias

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Document pages: 19 pages

Abstract: The legibility of the letters in the Latin alphabet has been measured numerous times since the beginning ofexperimental psychology. To identify the theoretical mechanisms attributed to letter identification, we reporta comprehensive review of literature, spanning more than a century. This review revealed that identificationaccuracy has frequently been attributed to a subset of three common sources: perceivability, bias, and simi-larity. However, simultaneous estimates of these values have rarely (if ever) been performed. We present theresults of two new experiments which allow for the simultaneous estimation of these factors, and examinehow the shape of a visual mask impacts each of them, as inferred through a new statistical model. Results showed that the shape and identity of the mask impacted the inferred perceivability, bias, and similarity space of a letter set, but that there were aspects of similarity that were robust to the choice of mask. The results illustrate how the psychological concepts of perceivability, bias, and similarity can be estimated simultaneously, and how each make powerful contributions to visual letter identification.

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