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This phenomenon is called "Hick's law" and is said to be a measure of the "rate of gain of information".The law is usually expressed by the formula Hick's law has interesting modern applications in marketing, where restaurant menus and web interfaces (among other things) take advantage of its principles in striving to achieve speed and ease of use for the consumer.The idea is that as the size of the set of digits increases the number of processes that need to be completed before a decision can be made increases as well.So if the subject has 4 items in short-term memory (STM), then after encoding the information from the probe stimulus the subject needs to compare the probe to each of the 4 items in memory and then make a decision.
The size of the initial set of digits determined the reaction time of the subject.
He was the first to use rigorous reaction time tests with the express intention of determining averages and ranges of individual differences in mental and behavioral traits in humans.
Galton hypothesized that differences in intelligence would be reflected in variation of sensory discrimination and speed of response to stimuli, and he built various machines to test different measures of this, including reaction time to visual and auditory stimuli.
This supported the idea that a subject did a serial exhaustive search through memory rather than a serial self-terminating search.
Shepard and Metzler (1971) presented a pair of three-dimensional shapes that were identical or mirror-image versions of one another.