The theory of signal detectability (TSD) was developed in the 1950s and 1960s as a way of understanding and explaining how humans process low-level sensory input. TSD incorporated concepts from statistical decision theory, mathematics, engineering, and electronic communications. For sensory psychology, TSD provided a highly quantitative alternative to the classical view that there is a threshold that amounts to a fixed boundary between signals that cannot be detected and those that are perfectly detectable. Instead, TSD asserted that the lower limit of detectability is subject to random influences. TSD also recognized that the measurement of sensory capability is affected by the observer’s need to make a decision when faced with inconclusive sensory evidence and that observers naturally tend to adopt effective strategies to make ...

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