Crossing event boundaries changes prospective perceptions of temporal length and proximity

  • Ashley S. BangertEmail author
  • Christopher A. Kurby
  • Allyson S. Hughes
  • Omar Carrasco


We conducted two experiments to investigate how crossing a single naturalistic event boundary impacted two different types of temporal estimation involving the same target duration – one where participants directly compared marked temporal durations and another where they judged the temporal proximity of stimuli. In Experiment 1, participants judged whether time intervals presented during movies of everyday events were shorter or longer than a previously encoded 5-s reference interval. We examined how the presence of a transition between events (event boundary) in the movie influenced people’s judgments about the length of the comparison interval. Comparison intervals presented during a portion of the movie containing an event boundary were judged as shorter than the reference interval more often than comparison intervals that contained no boundary. Working-memory updating at the event boundary may have directed attention away from the concurrent timing task. In Experiment 2, participants judged whether the second of three tones presented during everyday movies was closer to the first or the third tone presented. Tones separated by an event boundary were judged as farther apart than tones contained within the same event. When judging temporal proximity, attention directed to processing information at an event boundary between two stimuli may disrupt the formation of temporal associations between those stimuli. Overall, these results demonstrate that crossing a single event boundary can impact people’s prospective perceptions of the temporal characteristics of their experience and suggest that the episodic memory updating that occurs during an event boundary both captures timing-relevant attentional resources and plays a role in the temporal binding of information.


Event cognition Time perception Temporal proximity Event segmentation theory Attention 



We would like to thank Christian Ruiz for his assistance with participant testing. The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Open Practices Statement

None of the data or materials for the experiments reported here is available, and none of the experiments was preregistered.


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashley S. Bangert
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher A. Kurby
    • 2
  • Allyson S. Hughes
    • 1
    • 3
  • Omar Carrasco
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of Texas at El PasoEl PasoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyGrand Valley State UniversityAllendaleUSA
  3. 3.T1DExchangeBostonUSA

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