Estimating time: comparing the accuracy of estimation methods for interval timing

Damsma, Atser, Schlichting, Nadine, van Rijn, Hedderik and Roseboom, Warrick (2021) Estimating time: comparing the accuracy of estimation methods for interval timing. Collabra Psychology, 7 (1). a21422 1-15. ISSN 2474-7394

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Abstract

In interval timing experiments, motor reproduction is the predominant method used when participants are asked to estimate an interval. However, it is unknown how its accuracy, precision and efficiency compare to alternative methods, such as indicating the duration by spatial estimation on a timeline. In two experiments, we compared different interval estimation methods. In the first experiment, participants were asked to reproduce an interval by means of motor reproduction, timeline estimation, or verbal estimation. We found that, on average, verbal estimates were more accurate and precise than line estimates and motor reproductions. However, we found a bias towards familiar whole second units when giving verbal estimates. Motor reproductions were more precise, but not more accurate than timeline estimates. In the second experiment, we used a more complex task: Participants were presented a stream of digits and one target letter and were subsequently asked to reproduce both the interval to target onset and the duration of the total stream by means of motor reproduction and timeline estimation. We found that motor reproductions were more accurate, but not more precise than timeline estimates. In both experiments, timeline estimates had the lowest reaction times. Overall, our results suggest that the transformation of time into space has only a relatively minor cost. In addition, they show that each estimation method comes with its own advantages, and that the choice of estimation method depends on choices in the experimental design: for example, when using durations with integer durations verbal estimates are superior, yet when testing long durations, motor reproductions are time intensive making timeline estimates a more sensible choice.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
Research Centres and Groups: Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2021 15:26
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2022 13:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/101697

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