In a study of the internal category structure of the vowel /i/, Kuhl found a "perceptual magnet effect": Discrimination sensitivity was poorer for category instances that were acoustically similar to the category prototype than it was for category instances that were not. The typicality of category exemplars was determined by goodness judgments and was found to correlate with the acoustics of average production. Analysis and interpretation of discrimination performance relied on two important assumptions: that listeners perceived all stimuli presented as exemplars of the same vowel category and that, apart from the influence of phonetic coding, discrimination sensitivity was the same across the investigated part of the vowel space. In the present study, it is shown that production and perception estimates of the category prototype may diverge, possibly because listeners seem to prefer hyperarticulated variants of vowel categories. An approach towards measurement of intra-category discrimination minima is put forward and tested that protects against intercategory confounds and avoids the isosensitivity assumption.
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