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Detecting nonlinearity in psychological data: techniques and applications
Behavior Research Methods, Instruments and Computers
  • Richard A Heath, University of Newcastle
  • Alice A Kelly, University of Newcastle
  • Mitchell G Longstaff, Southern Cross University
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Modem graphical and computational techniques for detecting nonlinearity in psychological data sets are presented. These procedures allow researchers to determine the information complexity of temporal data, using physiological and psychological measurements, and to provide evidence for chaos in time series contaminated by measurement noise. Problems with noise reduction and appropriate experimental control, using surrogate time series, are discussed, and applications of the technology are illustrated, using response time, handwriting, and typing data sets. In an experimental application of appropriate nonlinear analysis procedures, the results of a time series prediction experiment confirm that some subjects are sensitive to chaos. In contrast to previous attempts demonstrating sensitivity to chaos, the experiment reported here employs surrogate series to control for linear stochastic aspects of the stimulus sequences, such as autocorrelation. Recommendations for the selection of appropriate software for performing nonlinear analyses are presented, including a comprehensive list of World-Wide Web sites offering such software.

Citation Information
Heath, RA, Kelly, AA & Longstaff, MG 2000, 'Detecting nonlinearity in psychological data: techniques and applications', Behavior Research Methods, Instruments and Computers, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 280-289.