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Thomas H. Rammsayer, Martin Verner; Evidence for different processes involved in the effects of nontemporal stimulus size and numerical digit value on duration judgments. Journal of Vision 2016;16(7):13. doi: 10.1167/16.7.13.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Perceived duration has been shown to be positively related to task-irrelevant, nontemporal stimulus magnitude. To account for this finding, Walsh's (2003) A Theory of Magnitude (ATOM) model suggests that magnitude of time is not differentiated from magnitude of other nontemporal stimulus characteristics and collectively processed by a generalized magnitude system. In Experiment 1, we investigated the combined effects of stimulus size and numerical quantity, as two nontemporal stimulus dimensions covered by the ATOM model, on duration judgments. Participants were required to reproduce the duration of target intervals marked by Arabic digits varying in physical size and numerical value. While the effect of stimulus size was effectively moderated by target duration, the effect of numerical value appeared to require attentional resources directed to the numerical value in order to become effective. Experiment 2 was designed to further elucidate the mediating influence of attention on the effect of numerical value on duration judgments. An effect of numerical value was only observed when participants' attention was directed to digit value, but not when participants were required to pay special attention to digit parity. While the ATOM model implies a common metrics and generalized magnitude processing for time, size, and quantity, the present findings provided converging evidence for the notion of two qualitatively different mechanisms underlying the effects of nontemporal stimulus size and numerical value on duration judgments. Furthermore, our data challenge the implicit common assumption that the effect of numerical value on duration judgments represents a continuously increasing function of digit magnitude.
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