Brown S W, Stubbs D A, 1988, "The psychophysics of retrospective and prospective timing" Perception 17(3) 297 – 310
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The psychophysics of retrospective and prospective timing
Scott W Brown, D Alan Stubbs
Received 12 June 1986, in revised form 31 March 1988
Abstract. In two experiments, different groups of subjects heard four musical selections and then estimated the duration of each selection. Some groups made retrospective time estimates while others made prospective estimates. In both experiments, analyses of the psychophysical relation between perceived and actual duration showed that the slopes of straight-line fits were flatter and accounted for a smaller proportion of the variance under retrospective as compared with prospective conditions. In addition, in experiment 1, retrospective subjects were less accurate in rank ordering the selections from longest to shortest. There was also a serial-order effect, with selections estimated longer when they occurred early in the sequence. In experiment 2 the slopes decreased as the selections in a series became longer. Both retrospective and prospective estimates also exhibited a context effect, in that estimates of a given selection were influenced by the relative durations of the other three selections in the series. The results on inaccurate retrospective judgments raise questions about prior research on stimulus factors and retrospective timing. However, similarities under retrospective and prospective conditions suggest that timing under these conditions, although different in some respects, reflects a similar process.
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