Cognitive Workload Affects Duration Judgments: Meta-Analytic Evidence

Block, R.A., Hancock, P.A., & Zakay, D. (2007). Cognitive workload affects duration judgments: Meta-analytic evidence. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61(4), 376.

Experiments investigating whether or not cognitive workload affects duration judgments of 3 sec or longer were meta-analyzed. Cognitive workload refers to the amount of nontemporal information-processing, or attentional, demands placed on a person. Effect sizes depend on whether or not participants were aware before the duration that a duration judgment was required (prospective vs. retrospective paradigms). With greater cognitive workload, the ratio of subjective to target duration decreases for prospective judgments (verbal estimates and reproductions shorten and productions lengthen), but it increases for retrospective judgments. The findings support an attentional-gate model of prospective timing and a contextual-change model retrospective timing.

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