Which sense react fastest? Vision or hearing?

statistical process control

What do you think?

The best way to find out is to test! It is possible to test it at the Norwegian museum of Science and Technology.

I did an experimental design where I tested age, gender and sense (vision and hearing). My brother in law (35 years), my son (10 years), my niece (7 years) and I (41 years) were volunteers. We took the time we spent on registering sound and light.

My brother in law was a tiny bit faster than me when reacting to sound, followed closely by my son and my niece. For light my brother in law was fastest, then my son, followed by me and my niece. What does this result mean?

How much do age, sex and sense influence reaction time? What has the greatest impact?

By looking at the individual measurements it may look like men are faster than women to respond to light, and age 35-41 years is faster than 7-10 years. We reacted faster to sound than to light. For sound, it appears that the age 35-41 years is faster than 7-10 years. Are these conclusions correct?

It is easy to draw conclusions based on single measurements. Are the measurements representative? What is the natural variation?

I decided to use statistical process control - SPC chart, to decide the normal variation of reaction time. I repeated the measurements of my reaction time for sound and light several times. Here you can see SPC chart with the normal variation of reaction time for sound and light:


statistical process control-sound
statistical process control-light

So what does it mean? You can expect me to use between 0.17 and 0.31 seconds to react to sound. While my reaction time to light is between 0.16 and 0.36 seconds. Average reaction time is 0.02 seconds faster for sound than light.

What about the experiment where I tested different age and gender? All measurements were within the normal variation of light and sound.

What does it mean? This means that the differences observed are not significant. In other words, the differences are not large enough to matter.

So what is my point? It can be easy to draw conclusions based on single measurements. If you do not compare the measurements with the normal variation of the process, it is easy to draw wrong conclusion.

Everything varies! One way to determine the natural variation is by multiple sampling and use of control chart to determine the normal variation.

So what is fastest of vision and hearing? My ears react a bit faster than my eyes. What about you?

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