Prospective duration judgments: the role of attention and secondary tasks

Duzcu, Halil
It is known that concurrent secondary tasks or attentionally salient stimuli shorten reproduced temporal durations. The main aim of this thesis is to use three types of secondary tasks to see their effects on duration judgments. The Attentional Gate Model (Block & Zakay, 2006) served as theoretical background for a series of 4 experiments. There were 2 baseline/control experiments for studying the effect of 2 different and novel secondary tasks which are temporal comparison and non-temporal executive tasks. Three duration lengths (short-moderate-long) were used (15, 30 and 45 sec) that subjects had to reproduce. In Exp-1 (control experiment for Exp-2) subjects had to reproduce almost empty time intervals. Exp-2, which investigated the role of a secondary temporal task, revealed significantly decreased reproduced durations as compared to Exp-1 which is in line with our hypothesis. In Exp-3 (control experiment for Exp-4) subjects carried out a non-temporal/non-executive secondary task. Exp-4, in which a Simon task was used as a non-temporal executive secondary task, resulted in significantly decreased reproduced durations as compared to Exp-3 as well. Moreover, duration length effects were found for all experiments that included an attention consuming secondary tasks (Exp-2-3-4), i.e., longer durations were more underestimated than shorter ones in the presence of attention demanding tasks. We conclude that secondary temporal tasks and even more so executive non-temporal tasks can lead to decreased temporal duration judgements, thus affecting subjects’ time perception, in line with the Attentional Gate Model.