Login

Absolute Threshold: Examples & Definition

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Intro to Personality

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Absolute Threshold Defined
  • 1:12 Examples of Absolute Threshold
  • 2:53 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Cobarrubias
In this lesson, we'll talk about what absolute threshold is and explore some examples of absolute threshold for the human senses - specifically for vision and hearing. In the end, test your knowledge with a quiz.

Absolute Threshold Defined

Have you ever heard the story of the Pea and the Princess? In this fairy tale, a prince is seeking a princess to take for his wife and, as luck would have it, a young woman claiming to be a princess seeks shelter from the rain at his castle. The prince's mother conducts a test to determine the authenticity of the woman's royal status - she is a princess if she can feel the presence of a pea in the bed she spends the night in, which is covered by 20 mattresses and as many featherbeds. The woman wakes in the morning complaining of a sore back from a lump in the bed, and the prince is overjoyed to have finally found a princess to marry.

It's safe to assume that the princess has a very sensitive back to be able to feel a stimulus with such a low absolute threshold. Absolute threshold is the smallest level of energy required by an external stimulus to be detectable by the human senses, including vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch. It is more precisely defined as the degree of intensity of a stimulus necessary to correctly detect that stimulus 50% of the time. Stimuli at or above the absolute threshold - those which can be detected - are called supraliminal.

Examples of Absolute Threshold

Since we use our senses all the time, absolute threshold plays a part in everything we do. Here are examples of absolute threshold for each of the five senses:

  • Vision - A candle flame 30 miles away
  • Hearing - A watch ticking 20 feet away
  • Smell - A drop of perfume in a 6-room house
  • Taste - A teaspoon of sugar in a gallon of water
  • Touch - A wing of a fly on your cheek, dropped 1 cm

Let's delve further into two of these senses - vision and hearing.

Absolute threshold concerning vision is the smallest amount of light that you can detect. Imagine, for instance, a car with its headlights on is driving toward you in the dark night. At first, you can't see the car, because it is too far away. The headlights are not intense enough for you to detect. But, at some point, you are able to see the headlights, because it reached your absolute threshold.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher
What is your educational goal?
 Back

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support