Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Committee Member

Karen Kemtes

Number of Pages



Recent auditory research has raised fundamental questions about the perceptual magnet effect (PME), where discrimination performance is poorer for stimuli that approach best exemplars of a phonetic category. It has been suggested that the effect reflects inter-categorical comparisons, and might not generalize to nonspeech. Three experiments addressed these concerns. In Experiment 1 prototype and non-prototype stimuli were determined from goodness ratings of synthesized (violin) timbres varying in center frequencies of F1 and F2 formants. Experiment 2 evaluated for a PME using discrimination data, and influences from other categories by comparing goodness ratings from stimuli in prototype, non-prototype, and no context conditions. Experiment 3 used labeling and discrimination tasks to assess if categorical perception occurs with timbres. Despite having stimuli reliably identified to be within the intended category, no PME was found. It is suggested that the PME, if a real phenomenon, is too difficult to tease apart from categorization tendencies.


Categorical; Effect; Evaluation; Magnet; Musical; Perceptions; Perceptual; Timbre

Controlled Subject

Cognitive psychology

File Format


File Size

1.94 MB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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