Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. J. Farley Norman (Director), Dr. Andrew Mienaltowski, Dr. Pitt Derryberry

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Many researchers have explored the way younger people perceive weight ratios using a variety of methodologies; however, very few researchers have used a more direct ratio estimation procedure, in which participants estimate an actual ratio between two or more weights. Of the few researchers who have used a direct method, the participants who were recruited were invariably younger adults. To date, there has been no research performed to examine how older adults perceive weight-ratios, using direct estimation or any other technique. Past research has provided evidence that older adults have more difficulty than younger adults in perceiving small differences in weight (i.e., the difference threshold for older adults is higher than that of younger adults). Given this result, one might expect that older adults would demonstrate similar impairments in weight ratio estimation compared to younger adults. The current experiment compared the abilities of 17 younger and 17 older adults to estimate weight ratios, using a direct ratio estimation procedure. On any given trial, participants were presented with two weights, and were asked to provide a direct estimate of the ratio, with the heavier in relation to the lighter. The results showed that the participants’ perceived weight ratios increased as a linear function of the actual weight ratios and that compared to younger adults, the older adults overestimated the weight ratios. The age-related overestimation was especially pronounced at higher weight ratios.


Clinical Psychology | Developmental Psychology