Short-term effects on temporal judgement: Sequential drivers of interval bisection and reproduction

Acta Psychol (Amst). 2018 Apr;185:87-95. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2018.01.009. Epub 2018 Feb 9.


Our prior experiences provide the background with which we judge subsequent events. In the time perception literature one common finding is that providing participants with a higher percentage of a particular interval can skew judgment; intervals will appear longer if the distribution of intervals contains more short experiences. However, changing the distribution of intervals that participants witness also changes the short-term, interval-to-interval, sequence that participants experience. In the experiment presented here, we kept the overall distribution of intervals constant while manipulating the immediately-prior experience of participants. In temporal bisection, this created a noted assimilation effect; participants judged intervals as shorter given an immediately preceding short interval. In interval reproduction, there was no effect of the immediately prior interval length unless the prior interval had a linked motor command. We thus proposed that the immediately prior interval provided a context by which a subsequent interval is judged. However, in the case of reproduction, where a subsequent interval is reproduced, rather than seen, the effects of contextualization are attenuated.

Keywords: Assimilation; Interval bisection; Interval reproduction; Sequential experience; Temporal perception.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult