Decisional carryover effects in interval timing: Evidence of a generalized response bias

Abstract

Decisional carryover refers to the tendency to report a current stimulus as being similar to a prior stimulus. In this article, we assess decisional carryover in the context of temporal judgments. Participants performed a temporal bisection task wherein a probe between a long and short reference duration (Experiment 1) was presented on every trial. In Experiment 2, every other trial presented a duration the same as the short or long reference duration. In Experiment 3, we concurrently varied both the size and duration of stimuli. Experiment 1 demonstrated the typical decisional carryover effect in which the current response was assimilated towards the prior response. In Experiment 2, this was not the case. Conversely, in Experiment 2, we demonstrated decisional carryover from the prior probe decision to the reference duration trials, a judgment which should have been relatively easy. In Experiment 3, we found carryover in the judgment of both size and duration, and a tendency towards decisional carryover having a larger effect size when participants were making size judgments. Together, our findings indicate that decisional carryover in duration judgments occur given relatively response-certain trials and that this effect appears to be similar in both size and duration judgments. This suggest that decisional carryover is indeed decisional in nature, rather than due to assimilative effects in perception, and that the difficulty of judging the previous test stimuli may play a role in whether assimilation occurs in the following trial when judging duration.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For information about anchoring, see Bravo and Mayzner (1961), Chapman and Johnson (1994), Furnham and Boo (2011), Larimer (1965), Parducci and Marshall (1962), and Sherif, Taub, and Hovland (1958). The reason anchoring has a difficulty dependent effect is due to the proposed adjustment until reaching a plausible bound for the stimulus property. The more uncertain, the further the bounds are, and the stronger the anchor-and-adjust heuristic will be. See Lieder, Griffiths, Huys, and Goodman (2017).

  2. 2.

    Specifically, it measures the slope of the distribution: [(p(long) = .75) − (p(long) = 0.25)] / 2 / BP

  3. 3.

    In brief, this involved normalizing each mean RT for each duration in each condition by dividing by the sum of the mean RTs for each participant. Each duration was then multiplied by its corresponding weight, and the results were summed within each condition for each participant.

  4. 4.

    Analyzing trials with RTs only under 1,000 ms, as done in Wiener et al. (2014), due to a possible RT limit on carryover effects (Wichmann & Hill, 2001), yielded a similar result.

  5. 5.

    Or, equivalently, the Bayes factor was 4.02 in favour of the null hypothesis.

  6. 6.

    Using an ANOVA, with prior response as a within-subjects factor, and the experiment as a between-subjects factor, showed no effects on either the BP or the WR. This was not included here for brevity.

  7. 7.

    Note that in this experiment, unlike in Experiments 1 and 2, a question mark was added to prompt response. This was done because it was found when judging size participants tended to respond prior to the conclusion of the stimulus. Generally, the RT findings in the current experiment replicate the results of Experiments 1 and 2 when participants were judging duration, indicating, perhaps, the question mark did not significantly affect PMU in this case. RTs to a size judgment (mean = 339 ms) were faster than to a time judgment (mean = 393 ms), but this difference was not significant, t(14.0) = 1.42, p = .177, d = .64.

  8. 8.

    This is likely due to prior research examining PMU in relation to what was happening in the current trial, rather than looking at the duration of the current and prior trial, as done here.

  9. 9.

    This suggestion has interesting ramifications for examining RT data in future: A comprehensive model could examine the effects of how close a prior and current stimulus are in objective terms, and whether a decision was repeated or not. It would seem likely that RTs should indicate faster decisions in the current trial if a decision was repeated and the current and prior trial were closer rather than further apart.

  10. 10.

    Though size and repetition are of interest more generally in time perception research, the effects of these on sequential processing is not the primary concern of the current article.

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Funding

Sowman is supported by the Australian Research Council (DP170103148) and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Cognition and its Disorders (http://www.ccd.edu.au); (CE110001021).

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Correspondence to Jordan J. Wehrman.

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Wehrman declares he has no conflict of interest. Wearden declares he has no conflict of interest. Sowman declares he has no conflict of interest.

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Appendix

Appendix

Table 1 Comparison of the model parameters fit in each experiment, condition and prior subjective/objective duration (or in Experiment 3, size)

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Wehrman, J.J., Wearden, J. & Sowman, P. Decisional carryover effects in interval timing: Evidence of a generalized response bias. Atten Percept Psychophys 82, 2147–2164 (2020). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-019-01922-1

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Keywords

  • Adaptation and Aftereffects
  • Categorization
  • Decision making
  • Duration judgment
  • Carryover
  • Time perception
  • Temporal bisection
  • Sequential processing