An absolute threshold is the level of intensity of a stimulus at which the subject is able to detect the presence of the stimulus some proportion of the time (a p level of 50% is often used). An alternative definition of absolute threshold is the lowest intensity at which a stimulus can be detected 50% of the time. According to the seventh edition of Psychology, Themes and Variations, absolute threshold is “for a specific type of sensory input and is the minimum stimulus intensity an organism can detect”.
An example of this would be an odor test. The least amount of the odorous object necessary to still make people smell the odor would be the absolute threshold. So, absolute threshold is the least amount of what we can detect and respond to. Thus, from this it can be concluded that the absolute minimum threshold is the measure of that lowest frequency that organisms still detect for a specific sensor. Another example of an absolute threshold is the number of hairs on the back of one’s hand that must be touched before it can be felt a participant may be unable to feel a single hair being touched, but may be able to feel two or three as this exceeds the threshold. Absolute threshold is also often referred to as detection threshold.
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