Posted: March 5th, 2016

# What is Reaction Time? What does reaction time indicate and what are some of the preparation events that occur during reaction time?

Laboratory 3: Reaction Time and Hick’s Law
Aim: To examine how reaction time (RT) is affected by the number of stimulus and response alternatives.
Hick’s Law is the second law of human behaviour. This law explores the effect that the number of stimulus and response alternatives has on human performance.
Essentially, Hick’s Law states that reaction time increases by nearly an equal amount each time the number of alternatives is doubled (1 to 2 to 4, to 8…). This relationship has become so predictable that it has been formally explained in a mathematical equation.
In sport, there are many occasions where the athlete needs to decide between a number of responses. For example, in Netball, when the centre steps into the circle to start the game, the player will make a quicker decision if she has a set decision of who to throw the ball to. However, it will take relatively longer if these options are not available and she has to search for other options.
Task: To sort a pack of cards as quickly as possible. In this lab we will examine the difference in time when there are 1-choice, 2-choice, 4-choice, and 8-choice options.

Procedure:
Participants will complete a number of card sorting task as quickly as possible. Complete each condition in random order. Each variation will start with the timer saying “Go” and stop when the last card lands on the pile.
Simple Reaction Time (SRT)
Participants will be required to sort all the cards into one pile.
2-Choice Reaction Time (2-CRT)
Participants will be required to sort all the cards into two piles:
RED BLACK
4-Choice Reaction Time (4-CRT)
Participants will be required to sort all the cards into four piles:
HEART DIAMONDS SPADES CLUBS
8-Choice Reaction Time (8-CRT)
Participants will be required to sort all the cards into eight piles:
2 – 7 HEART
2 – 7 DIAMONDS
2 – 7 SPADES
2 – 7 CLUBS
8 – A HEART
8 – A DIAMONDS
8 – A SPADES
8 – A CLUBS

Results
1.Present the results of the lab in an appropriate graph.
2.Interpret the results of the lab in relation to the aim of the lab (i.e.,what did we
actually find).

Discussion Questions
1. What is Reaction Time? What does reaction time indicate and what are some of the preparation events that occur during reaction time?
2.Describe three task and situational factors, other than the number of response choices, which influence reaction time (RT).
3. What is the cost-benefit trade-off involved in biasing the preparation of an action in the expectation of making one of several possible responses? Give a motor skill performance example to illustrate this trade-off

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