Perception is often biased by secondary stimulus attributes (e.g., stimulus noise, attention, or spatial context). A correct quantitative characterization of perceptual bias is essential for testing hypotheses about the underlying perceptual mechanisms and computations. We demonstrate that the standard two- alternative forced choice (2AFC) method can lead to incorrect estimates of perceptual bias. We present a new 2AFC method that solves this problem by asking subjects to judge the relative perceptual distances between the test and each of two reference stimuli. Naive subjects can easily perform this task. We successfully validated the new method with a visual motion-discrimination experiment. We demonstrate that the method permits an efficient and accurate characterization of perceptual bias and simultaneously provides measures of discriminability for both the reference and test stimulus, all from a single stimulus condition. This makes it an attractive choice for the characterization of perceptual bias and discriminability in a wide variety of psychophysical experiments.
here is a link to a repository that contains MATLAB code related to the new method.