Developmental Changes in Human Duration Judgments: A Meta-Analytic Review.

Block, R.A., Zakay, D., & Hancock, P.A. (1999). Developmental changes in human duration judgments: A meta-analytic review. Developmental Review, 19, 183-211.

We reviewed 20 experiments comparing duration judgments made by children versus adolescents and adults. All used a prospective paradigm, in which participants knew they would have to make duration judgments. Meta-analyses revealed substantial age-related differences: Compared to older participants, children make larger verbal estimates, comparable productions, and shorter reproductions of duration. Children’s duration judgments also show greater interindividual variability. We discuss physiological hypotheses concerning pacemaker rate and temperature or metabolic rate, along with cognitive hypotheses concerning duration units, memory processes, attentional resources, and impatience and waiting. At least two explanations are needed: Children have not yet accurately learned verbal labels for duration experiences, and they are impatient during relatively empty durations. Both can be interpreted in terms of an attentional-gate model.

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