Piecemeal Activity Law Of


PIERON'S LAW. The French physiological/ sensory psychologist Henri Pieron (18811964) stated in 1907 - before the American behavioral psychologist John B. Watson's pronouncements in 1913 and 1919 - that the proper subject matter of psychology should be behavior; also, Pieron was the originator of the French school of behaviorism, or psychologie du comportement. It's been known since the 1880s that simple reaction time or SRT decreases when the intensity of a given stimulus increases. Pieron's law describes this principle by the following power function: SRT-to = p I" a, where SRT is simple reaction time, to is an asymptotic reaction time (RT)

reached at higher stimulus intensities, p is the range of changes between the to value and the maximum RT determined at threshold, I is the intensity of the stimulus, and a is the exponent of the function. The parameters of a and to in Pieron's law appear to be specific for a given sensory modality, and to appears to represent the combination of two constant parameters: the duration of the motor component and a specific processing time for a given sensory modality. Inasmuch as to varies between sensory modalities, its functional significance is apparently more sensory than decisional. However, its estimation is difficult and depends on the range and/or the number of intensities. When the range of intensities does not extend high enough, it may be safer to reduce Pieron's function to two parameters (a and P), although the generality of the exponent may not be guaranteed. Pieron's law seems to hold for choice reaction time (CRT), as well as for SRT, tasks and describes RT as a power function of stimulus intensity, with similar exponents, regardless of the complexity of the experimental task. See also BE-HAVIORIST THEORY; REACTION-TIME PARADIGMS/MODELS; WATSON'S THEORY.

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