Difference Between Absolute Threshold and Difference Threshold

The lowest stimulus intensity that a person detects at least 50% of the time is known as an absolute threshold. The smallest difference between two stimuli that a person can detect is called a difference threshold. We will discuss the difference between absolute and difference thresholding in this post, along with how it applies to psychology. 

What is the absolute threshold?

The least amount of energy needed to activate a person's sensory receptors is known as an absolute threshold. Similar testing procedures may be used to compare the absolute threshold of another sensory system. As a consequence, the tester can momentarily produce light, sound, or any other type of stimulus at different low intensities up until the point at which the observer is unable to detect the stimuli. Thousands of experiments may be conducted on the issue before the researcher is able to determine the threshold. The absolute threshold, while a useful concept, does not exist, suggesting that a person could occasionally not able to recognize a specific dim light. 

What is the Difference threshold?

A difference threshold is the smallest difference between two stimuli that must exist for a subject to notice change 50% of the time. The concept is better explained by the term only visible difference, which also refers to the difference threshold. The following are some specific thresholds in daily life, we notice a loudness change on the radio when we hear even the smallest variation in sound. We could distinguish two sand mounds with the slightest weight difference. Humans are able to discern between two light bulbs with the slightest shift in light intensity. To detect a taste variation in a soap, the amount of salt just needs to be slightly changed. The lowest change in fragrance concentration is at which we are able to distinguish different smells. 

Difference between the absolute threshold and the difference threshold:

  • Absolute threshold is the minimum amount of intensity required for one to be able to detect a stimulus while difference threshold is the minimum amount of difference in intensity required for one to be able to detect a change. 
  • Unlike the difference threshold, the absolute threshold does not involve any change in the intensity of the stimulus.
  • The absolute threshold determines the minimum value of intensity while the difference threshold determines the value of change of intensity.
  • The absolute threshold varies largely from person to person as well as animals, whereas there is only a slight variation in the different thresholds of different people. 
  • The absolute threshold is the minimum amount of volume at which a person can detect sound. On the other hand, the difference threshold is the maximum amount of change in the volume for a person to detect it. 
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