A bayesian solution for the law of categorical judgment with category boundary variability and examination of robustness to model violations
King, David R.
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Previous solutions for the the Law of Categorical Judgment with category boundary variability have either constrained the standard deviations of the category boundaries in some way or have violated the assumptions of the scaling model. In the current work, a fully Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo solution for the Law of Categorical Judgment is given that estimates all model parameters (i.e. scale values, category boundaries, and the associated standard deviations). The importance of measuring category boundary standard deviations is discussed in the context of previous research in signal detection theory, which gives evidence of interindividual variability in how respondents perceive category boundaries and even intraindividual variability in how a respondent perceives category boundaries across trials. Although the measurement of category boundary standard deviations appears to be important for describing the way respondents perceive category boundaries on the latent scale, the inclusion of category boundary standard deviations in the scaling model exposes an inconsistency between the model and the rating method. Namely, with category boundary variability, the scaling model suggests that a respondent could experience disordinal category boundaries on a given trial. However, the idea that a respondent actually experiences disordinal category boundaries seems unlikely. The discrepancy between the assumptions of the scaling model and the way responses are made at the individual level indicates that the assumptions of the model will likely not be met. Therefore, the current work examined how well model parameters could be estimated when the assumptions of the model were violated in various ways as a consequence of disordinal category boundary perceptions. A parameter recovery study examined the effect of model violations on estimation accuracy by comparing estimates obtained from three response processes that violated the assumptions of the model with estimates obtained from a novel response process that did not violate the assumptions of the model. Results suggest all parameters in the Law of Categorical Judgment can be estimated reasonably well when these particular model violations occur, albeit to a lesser degree of accuracy than when the assumptions of the model are met.