Field dependence–independence differently affects retrospective time estimation and flicker-induced time dilation

  • Alice TeghilEmail author
  • Maddalena Boccia
  • Cecilia Guariglia
Research Article


Field dependence–independence (FDI) is a stable dimension of individual functioning, transversal to different cognitive domains. While the role of some individual variables in time perception has received considerable attention, it is not clear whether and how FDI influences timing abilities. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that FDI differently affects timing performance depending on whether the task requires cognitive restructuring. Participants were assessed for FDI using the embedded figures test (EFT). They performed a prospective timing task, reproducing the duration of a flickering stimulus, and a retrospective timing task, estimating the duration of the task. We expected performance of field-dependent (FD) and field-independent (FI) individuals not to differ in the prospective task, since restructuring of task material is not needed to reproduce the stimulus duration. Conversely, we predicted that FI individuals should be more accurate than FD ones in the retrospective condition, involving restructuring skills. Results show that while both FD and FI individuals under-reproduced the stimulus duration in the prospective task, only FD participants significantly underestimated the duration of the timing task in the retrospective condition. These results suggest that differences across FD and FI individuals are apparent in timing only when the task requires high-level cognitive processing; conversely, these differences do not affect basic sensory processing.


Time perception Timing Interval reproduction Retrospective time estimation Field dependence Cognitive style 



The present study was partially supported by funding from Sapienza University of Rome to AT (Avvio alla Ricerca, 2018; nr AR11816421D63BF2) and by fellowship from the PhD Program in Behavioral Neuroscience of Sapienza University of Rome to AT.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

221_2019_5485_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 14 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology“Sapienza” University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.PhD Program in Behavioral Neuroscience“Sapienza” University of RomeRomeItaly
  3. 3.Cognitive and Motor Rehabilitation UnitIRCCS Fondazione Santa LuciaRomeItaly

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