, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 184-197

Prospective and retrospective duration judgments: A meta-analytic review


A meta-analytic review compared prospective and retrospective judgments of duration, or duration judgment paradigm. Some theorists have concluded that the two paradigms involve similar cognitive processes, whereas others have found that they involve different processes. A review of 20 experiments revealed that prospective judgments are longer and less variable than are retrospective judgments. Several theoretically important variables moderate these effects, especially those concerned with information processing activities. Therefore, somewhat different cognitive processes subserve experienced and remembered duration. Attentional models are needed to explain prospective judgments, and memory-based models are needed to explain retrospective judgments. These findings clarify models of human duration judgment and suggest directions for future research. Evidence on duration judgments may also influence models of attention and memory.

This study was supported in part by grants from the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation and from the MONTS Program at Montana State University. A preliminary version of this study was presented at the meeting of the Western Psychological Association, May 1994. The authors thank Andrew Gilpin for providing the COEFVAR program and discussing the coefficient of variation analysis, as well as Alice Healy and Charles A. Pierce for discussing meta-analytic statistics. The authors also thank Charles A. Pierce, Hannes Eisler, Roddy Roediger, Pierre Perruchet, Lars-Göran Nilsson, and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on a previous version of the manuscript.