Robert Teghtsoonian, im memoriam

 In Memoriam  Comments Off on Robert Teghtsoonian, im memoriam
Jan 252022

Martha Teghtsoonian

Robert Teghtsoonian (1932-2017) was born in Toronto, Canada, where his parents had emigrated from Armenia in the wake of the Armenian genocide and the First World War.1 Bob (as everyone called him) earned his bachelor’s degree and his master’s in psychology from the University of Toronto, his Ph. D. in the Department of Psychology at Harvard. There he met Martha (whom everyone calls Mimi); their marriage was the beginning of a life-long collaboration. At his death, he left his wife, his son Chris, and a niece and two nephews, Katherine, Brian, and David Teghtsoonian.

Bob tackled many research projects in psychology, and he often worked with collaborators. Among his first publications were a series of studies of activity in rats as a function of food deprivation and environmental stimulation, done with Byron Campbell2; they were followed by an investigation of activity in rats as a function of deprivation and incentive, with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania.

At Harvard, his doctoral research was in verbal learning. He showed that mastering a list in a recognition task was dependent on the number of items from which the correct item must be selected. Trials to mastery increased with larger numbers of alternative items. However, the effect was entirely on retrieval, not on storage.3 He also provided an elegant demonstration of one-trial learning in individuals, showing that mastery of a single item occurred on a single trial.4

In 1970, he switched his attention to psychophysics. Always interested in practical applications of psychophysical techniques, he worked with Randy Frost to use magnitude scaling to assess fear of snakes in phobic subjects, as a function of distance from a boa constrictor displayed in a Plexiglas cage which was either uncovered or covered.5

With Birgitta Berglund and Ulf Berglund, Bob and Mimi undertook a study of magnitude of odor strength as a joint function of the intensity of the olfactory stimulus and the strength of sniff pressure, and showed that (contrary to previous assumptions based on physiological preparations) varying the flow rates produced by sniff pressure did not produce corresponding changes in odor strength. They proposed an odor- constancy model, in which sensed sniff pressure and sensed odor strength combined to produce invariance in odor strength.6

A series of studies on the effect of fatigue on perceived effort in a variety of activities was carried out in Gunnar Borg’s laboratory, with his advice and assistance. 7

With Georges Canévet, Bob and Mimi conducted a series of studies examining the phenomenon termed decruitment, a rapid decrease in loudness as an auditory signal continuously lessens in sound energy, as well as upcruitment, a rapid increase in loudness as an auditory signal continuously grows. In both cases, the change in loudness was greater than would be predicted from the magnitude scale for loudness. They extended the paradigm to visual area, and showed that decruitment occurred in that modality as well.8

Bob’s major work in psychophysics was elucidating the relationships among perceived magnitude of sensory signals, resolving power, and dynamic range. He first (1971) suggested, in On the Exponents in Stevens’s Law and the Constant in Ekman’s Law9that, on all sensory continua, measures of discrimination, measures of subjective rate of growth in intensity, and the range of sensitivity were governed by the same set of relations. He hypothesized that this might depend on a central magnitude monitor. In the succeeding four decades, a series of studies examined various objections to the model and showed how biases could be controlled.10 The culmination of this work, published in 2012, was The Standard Model for Perceived Magnitude: A Framework for (Almost) Everything Known about It.11 This paper explores two ideas. One is that the dynamic ranges of sensory continua are measurable (or estimatable) and, importantly, less susceptible to the biases attendant on the measurement of exponents. The second is the assumption that every dynamic range is equal in subjective magnitude to every other dynamic range. From these two ideas, it follows that an exponent is predictable from the dynamic range, as is the just-noticeable ratio, and that all just-noticeable ratios are subjectively equal. As the title of this paper suggests, the model provides at least a useful heuristic to summarize the state of our knowledge, and at best the basis of a research program to test its predictions.

Bob was one of the founding members of ISP, along with Mimi, Birgitta Berglund, Ulf Berglund, and Bert Scharf. He envisioned the society as one where membership was governed by an interest in psychophysics, where a graduate student giving a first presentation received the same attention as an eminent psychologist, and an eminent psychologist was met with the same critical attitude as a graduate student. He also hoped that as much time at meetings would be devoted to informal discussions as to formal presentations.

He corresponded widely with colleagues and was a frequent reviewer of manuscripts for a number of psychological journals.

Outside of psychology, his interests were also broad. He loved music–from Mozart, to Willie Nelson and Linda Ronstadt, to Stan Getz and the Modern Jazz quartet, with a special liking for gypsy jazz. He was an ardent fan of the Boston Red Sox. He followed American politics closely and became an American citizen so that he could vote in elections. With his wife and son, he travelled widely in Europe, but especially in France. He enjoyed good food and good wine, especially with good company. Perhaps most of all, he liked a good argument.

He loved games, both as a spectator and a participant. He believed that science was a team sport, and that it was the best game of all.

Selected References

1. Teghtsoonian, O. (Author) and Teghtsoonian, R. and Teghtsoonian, C. (Editors) From Van to Toronto: A Life in Two Worlds. iUniverse, 2003.

2. Teghtsoonian, R. and Campbell, B. A. Random activity of the rat during food deprivation as a function of environmental conditions. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 1960, 53, 242-244.

3. Teghtsoonian, R. The influence of number of alternatives on learning and performance in a recognition task. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 1965, 19, 31-41.

4. Teghtsoonian, R. and Teghtsoonian, M. Discontinuities in recognition learning revealed by critical-trial analysis. The American Journal of Psychology, 1971, 84, 75- 84.

5. Teghtsoonian, R. and Frost, R. O. The effects of viewing distance on fear of snakes. Journal of Behavioral Therapy & Experimental Psychiatry,1982, 13, 181-190.

6. Teghtsoonian, R., Teghtsoonian, M., Berglund, B., and Berglund, U. Invariance of odor strength with sniff vigor: An olfactory analog to size constancy. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 1978, 4, 144-152.

7. Teghtsoonian, R., Teghtsoonian, M., and Karlsson, J.-G. The limits of perceived magnitude: Comparison among individuals and among perceptual continua. Acta Psychologica, 1981, 49, 83-94.

8. Teghtsoonian, R., Teghtsoonian, M., and Canévet, G. The perception of waning signals: Decruitment in loudness and perceived size. Perception & Psychophysics, 2000, 62, 637-646.

9. Teghtsoonian, R. On the exponents in Steven’s law and the constant in Ekman’s law. Psychological Review, 1971, 78, 71-80.

10. Teghtsoonian, M., and Teghtsoonian, R. Putting context effects into context. In Berglund, B. and Borg, E. (Eds.), Fechner Day 2003, 309-314. Larnaca, Cyprus: International Society for Psychophysics.

11. Teghtsoonian, R. The standard model for perceived magnitude: A framework for (almost) everything known about it. American Journal of Psychology, 125, 165- 174.

Eugene Galanter (Oct. 27, 1924 – Nov. 9, 2016)

 In Memoriam  Comments Off on Eugene Galanter (Oct. 27, 1924 – Nov. 9, 2016)
Jan 252022
Photo courtesy of Mrs. Patricia Galanter

Imagine Gene Galanter in military uniform atop a hill. He is looking at the vast expanse of human behavior unfolding below him. The behaviors range from gallantry, Eugene himself received the French Legion d’Honeur, to self preservation. Perhaps his WWII experiences shaped the keen perception of human behavior he used to stimulate and drive forward a new view, a new force, in Psychology.

The force was Gene’s positive approach to creating and then extending a more theoretical psychology. The behaviorists, such as Skinner and other S-R theorists, believed that only known behaviors were needed in order to predict future behaviors. But, following WWII many new psychologists saw the need for a deeper understanding of the cause of behavior. In this view, learning was fundamental. But, then, given learning, how does behavior occur? The remarkable book by Galanter, Miller, and Pribram, (1960), Plans and the structure of behavior, suggested a means by which behaviors developed. The book marks a fundamental turning point in the development of psychological theory – a step beyond the Gestalt psychologists and their predecessors.

Mental processes became important. The process describing the path from stimulus to response required advanced mathematical theories, based on axiomatic foundations, probability models and stochastic processes to create a better understanding of the actions of mind.

Graduate training at Stanford’s Institute for Mathematical Studies in the Social Sciences required study of three volumes edited by Luce, Bush & Galanter, the Handbook of mathematical psychology. In addition, Galanter, Luce, and Bush’s (1964–1965) Readings in mathematical psychology (3 volumes) introduced many students to the most fundamental ideas and new developments. I was especially intrigued by Luce and Galanter’s approach to choice, and especially appreciative of the great chapters contributed to and edited by Galanter, Luce and Bush.

Many, many years later I met Gene during meetings of the International Society for Psychophysics. His presentations suggested how psychophysical theory can be applied to the various educational interests he maintained since the publication of his first book, Automatic teaching: the state of the art (1959). He knew the drill and discovered a kindred group of scientists who appreciated the formal theory and developments he fostered. He was a lively speaker, always up front and at the top. I think of how his works deepened my own education at Stanford and how his intellect, foresight and rigor advantaged us all.

Thank you Gene, for great accomplishments.

Stephen Link

Professor Emeritus

In memoriam: Ragnar Steingrimsson

 In Memoriam  Comments Off on In memoriam: Ragnar Steingrimsson
Aug 032017

Ragnar Steingrimsson, UCI IMBS associate project scientist, dies at 50

Ragnar Steingrimsson, associate project scientist in the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences at University of California at Irvine, passed away in his sleep on May 22. He was 50.

Steingrimsson received his Ph.D. in cognitive sciences from UCI in 2002 and went on to complete postdoctoral work on the Irvine campus and at New York University before starting work full time at UCI’s Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences as an assistant project scientist. Alongside renowned cognitive scientists Duncan Luce and Louis Narens, Steingrimsson pursued research on subjective evaluation of sensory intensities – how people understand loudness, brightness, pain and other senses. At the time of his death, he was working to provide scientific evidence for a comprehensive theory of Luce’s that explained and integrated judgments of intensity within and across sensory domains. 

“As a graduate student in cognitive sciences, Ragnar did his doctoral dissertation under the guidance of Duncan,” says Louis Narens, cognitive sciences professor. “Duncan developed new mathematical techniques to study how people understand and experience senses – and Ragnar developed experimental techniques to test Duncan’s theories. Together, they published many papers in top psychology journals and developed important new methodologies for conducting psychophysical research.”

Among them: Psychological Review, Journal of Mathematical Psychology, Journal of American Psychology, and Attention, Perception & Psychophysics.

Steingrimsson also studied under cognitive sciences professors David Laberge and Jean-Claude Falmagne where he focused on attention and psychophysics and knowledge spaces, respectively. Throughout his postdoctoral positions at UCI, his research was continuously funded by the National Science Foundation and Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Steingrimsson was an avid runner and a native of Iceland. He earned a certificate in French language at the University of Paris, Sorbonne in 1989, and then headed to the University of Copenhagen, Denmark where he earned his bachelor’s in film and communication in 1991 and his bachelor’s in computer science in 1992. He came to Chapman University in Orange, California where he earned an MFA in 1994 and his master’s in English in 1995. He then joined the UCI Department of Cognitive Sciences graduate program, earning his master’s in 1998 and his Ph.D. in 2002.

During his 22-year association with UCI, Steingrimsson also worked remotely as a senior research scientist for the Northwest Evaluation Association (2013-16), an adjunct professor of psychology for New York University (2004-05), and a research scientist at Ohio State University (2017).


Text provided by Kimberly A. Jameson

Executive Committee

 Society  Comments Off on Executive Committee
Nov 192016

Society President

Prof. Kazuo Ueda
Department of Human Science,
Kyushu University

Society Vice President

Prof. Leah Fostick
Department of Communication Disorders
Ariel University

Society Secretary

Prof. Jordan Schoenherr
Department of Psychology
Carleton University

Society Treasurer

Prof. Wolfgang Ellermeier
Applied Cognitive Psychology
Technical University of Darmstadt

Non-Executive Scientific Communication Officer

Natalia Postnova
Department of Human Science,
Kyushu University

Former executive committees

2018-19Bruce Schneider, Kazuo Ueda, Leah Fostick, Jordan Schoenherr, Wolfgang Ellermeier, Sophia Arndt
2017-18John Monahan, Friedrich Müller, Wolfgan Ellermeier, Timonthy Hubbard
2015-16John Monahan, Friedrich Mueller, Timonthy Hubbard, Wolfgang Ellermeier
2013-14Martha Teghtsoonian, Rosana Tristao, Wolfgang Ellermeier, Elisabeth Borg
2011-12Thomas Lachmann, Ana Garriga-Trillo, William Petrusic, Elisabeth Borg, Mark Elliott, Michael Heidelberger
2009-11Thomas Lachmann, Ana Garriga-Trillo, William Petrusic, Shuji Mori, Mark Elliott, Michael Heidelberger
2008-09Jiri Wackermann, Cees Van Leeuwen, William Petrusic, Shuji Mori, Mark Elliott, Michael Heidelberger
2007-08Diana Kornbrot, Cees Van Leeuwen, William Petrusic, Jiri Wackermann, Bruce Schneider, Maralyn Schneider

Diana Kornbrot, Alexander Sokolov, William Petrusics, Ehtibar Dzhafarov, Shuji Mori


Lawrence Ward, Alexander Sokolov, Galina Paramei, Ehtibar Dzhafarov, Diana Kornbrot, Mark Elliott


Mark Elliott, Lawrence Ward, Galina Paramei, Lucia Regolin, John Monahan, Jim Townsend


Steven Link, Lucia Regolin, Mark Elliott, Galina Paramei, Armando Luis Dinis Monica de Oliveira


Steven Link, Galina Paramei, Wolfgang Ellermeier, Simon Grondin, Birgitta Berglund, Douglas Vickers


Wolfgang Ellermeier, Simon Grondin, José Aparacido Da Silva, Douglas Vickers, Debra Zellner


Gert Haubensak, Sandy MacRae, Erdmute Sommerfeld, Douglas Vickers, Debra Zellner


Claude Bonnet, George Gescheider, Gert Haubensak, Sandy MacRae, Martha Teghtsoonian


George Gescheider, Peter Killeen, Greg Neely, Marina Pavlova, Martha Teghtsoonian


Danny Algom, Simon Grondin, Yves Lacouture, Greg Lockhead, Greg Neely, Marina Pavlova


Daniel Algom, Loriane Allen, Anna Pries, Gregory Lockhead, Lawrence Marks


Birgitta Berglund, Loriane Allen, Sergio Masin, Scott Parker, Lawrence Marks


Birgitta Berglund, Ana Garriga-Trillo, Friedrich Müller, Scott Parker, Bertram Scharf


Birgitta Berglund, Ana Garriga-Trillo, Friedrich Müller, Scott Parker, Lawrence Ward


Birgitta Berglund, Ana Garriga-Trillo, Scott Parker, Helen Ross, Lawrence Ward


Birgitta Berglund, Gunnar Borg, Scott Parker, Helen Ross, Lawrence Ward


Gunnar Borg, Gregory Lockhead, Friedrich Müller, Helen Ross, Robert Teghtsoonian, Lawrence Ward


Gunnar Borg, Helen Ross, Robert Teghtsoonian, Lawrence Ward


Gunnar Borg, Camille-Aimé Possamaï, Bertram Scharf, Robert Teghtsoonian


Georges Canevet, Anne-Marie Bonnel, Camille-Aimé Possamaï, Bertram Scharf

Hannes Eisler, 1923-2015

 In Memoriam  Comments Off on Hannes Eisler, 1923-2015
Jul 022015

Åke Hellström

Stockholm University, Sweden


Our very distinguished member, Professor Hannes Eisler, Stockholm University, has left us. He died on May 28, 2015, at the age of 91. He was a member of the ISP from its beginnings. At Fechner Day 2014 in Lund, Sweden, Hannes lectured on “Some research tips from 55 years’ psychophysics.” Informally, he named this presentation his “swan song.”

Hannes was Born in Vienna, Austria, 1923, and at the age of 15 fled to Sweden to escape the Nazis. Initially Hannes worked as a farm hand but quickly progressed to study at high school and later at Stockholm University, where he became an adept of Gösta Ekman, the Swedish pioneer of quantitative psychology. After spending a year in S. S. Stevens’ lab at Harvard, Hannes was awarded his Ph.D. in Stockholm 1963. In 1994, as the result of a petition from all Swedish psychology professors, the Swedish government awarded Hannes Eisler the rank and honor of Professor – a rare recognition of scientific merit.

During his long career, Hannes authored a large number of publications and made many important contributions to our field. His doctoral dissertation was about the relation between magnitude and category scales. Later on, he turned much of his interest toward time perception in people as well as in mice. Perhaps the most impressive of his contributions is the Parallel Clock model for temporal reproduction and comparison1, which arose from Hannes’ arduous and meticulous investigation of long known anomalies in time perception; specifically, breaks in psychophysical functions. Noting the positions of those breaks in reproduction data led him to the counter-intuitive realization that participants use a seemingly odd strategy in immediate reproduction of temporal intervals: subjectively matching the reproduction, not to the standard, but to one-half of the total duration. Using this model it is possible to estimate the psycho-physical function for time from reproduction data, and Hannes published a huge collection of temporal power function exponents2 – much cited but all too often with no understanding of how they were determined.

Hannes was intellectually perspicacious and possessed research talent in abundance. Modes-ty, good nature, along with deep and diverse cultural interests, sense of humor, and appreci-ation of the good things in life, were some of his other characteristics. Scientific seminars on various topics were enriched by his insightful comments until a heart attack sadly ended his long life.

I miss Hannes immensely, as a very good old friend, a respected senior colleague, and a mentor – even the word guru feels very appropriate.


  1. Eisler, H. (1975). Psychological Review, 82, 429-450.
  2. Eisler, H. (1976). Psychological Bulletin, 83, 1154-1171.

Anna D. Eisler 1937-2011

 In Memoriam  Comments Off on Anna D. Eisler 1937-2011
Feb 232015

Åke Hellström
Stockholms universitet, Stockholm

Anna D. Eisler was born near Bratislava in former Czechoslovakia. In 1968 she came to Stockholm. Educated as an economist, she became employed as a bank clerk. After meeting her future husband, Hannes Eisler, she studied psychology at Stockholm University. The title of her doctoral dissertation (1993) – “Time perception: theoretical considerations and empirical studies of the influence of gender, age, and culture on subjective duration” – describes her earlier research, putting Hannes’ Parallel Clock Model to work as an analytical tool. Later Anna broadened her perspective to crosscultural psychology, spanning the perception of time as well as of risk and ecological conditions, and also highlighting gender differences. Anna and Hannes Eisler formed a strong research team. At Stockholm University Anna taught courses and supervised student papers. A long-standing active member of ISP, a frequent global traveller to conferences and engaged in international collaborations, Anna was a warm, social, generous, and committed person with contagious enthusiasm for research as well as for the wonders of nature and culture.

Lorraine Allan (1940-2012)

 In Memoriam  Comments Off on Lorraine Allan (1940-2012)
Jan 102015

Scott Parker
American University, Washington, DC

Lorraine was a longstanding and dedicated member of the ISP, and was a member of the Executive Board in 1996 and 1997. Born in Toronto, she did her undergraduate work at the University of Toronto and her graduate work at McMaster University. After receiving her Ph.D. she remained at McMaster, becoming Professor of Psychology in 1981 and Professor Emeritus in 2006.

Her research work in psychology spanned and integrated numerous approaches and topics. Much of her research exhibited considerable quantitative sophistication. And all of it exhibited a clarity of thought and expression that we could admire and envy. She had an uncanny ability to combine outlooks from seemingly contrary or unrelated areas of psychology, and she could apply those outlooks to topics that might have seemed unconnected to them. This ability stemmed in part from her thorough understanding of a great many psychological ideas.

Beginning in the 1970s and continuing for decades, Lorraine studied time perception in humans, investigating not only duration perception but also successiveness. Her studies used both “traditional” psychophysical methods such as discrimination, magnitude estimation, and bisection tasks as well as signal detection theory and also other procedures (e.g., masking) more associated with purely sensory research. Some of that work pursued the model that she had developed with Albert Kristofferson.

In the1980s Lorraine undertook the study of several color aftereffects, starting with the “McCullough effect”, with her colleague and partner, Shepherd Siegel. They brought ideas from the conditioning and learning literatures to bear on what had been thought to be purely sensory phenomena. This work demonstrated that what seemed to be purely sensory phenomena could profitably be viewed as products of classical conditioning processes, and that combining approaches from seemingly separate psychological traditions could provide valuable insights. Their studies showed some surprising connections between color-contingent aftereffects, homeostasis, and drug withdrawal.

Her involvement in the study of conditioning processes led her into the study of judgments of contingency and causality. Those had, not surprisingly, been thought of as the result of associative processes, but Lorraine approached them using signal detection theory. And she once again demonstrated the value of integrating several approaches to a single psychological phenomenon.

Lorraine also applied signal detection theory to the study of other topics that could benefit from it, notably the placebo effect and “depressive realism”.

Those of us who knew her, many of us by virtue of her presence in ISP, know that she was smart, thorough, honest, and clear-headed about everything – not just psychology — and she was also personally wonderful to spend time and talk with. ISP and Psychology were fortunate to have her with us, and we’ve lost someone special.


Become a member

 Society  Comments Off on Become a member
Jan 252007

Welcome! Become a member of the International Society of Psychophysics and expand your network to a lively community of psychophysics.  Continue reading »