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The effect of task interruption and closure on perceived duration

Abstract

On the basis of a version of the Zeigarnik (1927) demonstration, the effect of task interruption and closure on perceived duration was examined. Subjects estimated the time it took to solve a list of 10 three-letter anagrams; this group thus experienced closure when they completed the task. A second group of subjects was presented with a 20-item set of anagrams, the first 10 of which were identical to the items solved by the first group. These subjects were interrupted after solving the first 10 items, then they estimated the time. A significant difference in the perceived duration of the task was found between the two groups: subjects who were interrupted significantly overestimated the time it took to solve the first 10 anagrams. These findings indicate that task interruption has a lengthening effect on perceived duration. Gestalt notions of closure and motivation are discussed.

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Schiffman, N., Greist-Bousquet, S. The effect of task interruption and closure on perceived duration. Bull. Psychon. Soc. 30, 9–11 (1992). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03330382

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03330382

Keywords

  • Time Perception
  • Duration Judgment
  • Task Interruption
  • Apparant Duration
  • Perceive Dura