Allocating time to future tasks: the effect of task segmentation on planning fallacy bias

Mem Cognit. 2008 Jun;36(4):791-8. doi: 10.3758/mc.36.4.791.


The scheduling component of the time management process was used as a "paradigm" to investigate the allocation of time to future tasks. In three experiments, we compared task time allocation for a single task with the summed time allocations given for each subtask that made up the single task. In all three, we found that allocated time for a single task was significantly smaller than the summed time allocated to the individual subtasks. We refer to this as the segmentation effect. In Experiment 3, we asked participants to give estimates by placing a mark on a time line, and found that giving time allocations in the form of rounded close approximations probably does not account for the segmentation effect. We discuss the results in relation to the basic processes used to allocate time to future tasks and the means by which planning fallacy bias might be reduced.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bias
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors
  • Time Perception*