The Effects of Duration Words and Spatial-Temporal Metaphors on Perceived Duration


Subjective duration estimates are positively related to the magnitude of various non-temporal stimuli (e.g. Xuan et al., 2007). Our study investigated whether temporal and spatial magnitude information conveyed by linguistic stimuli would affect perceived duration in a temporal reproduction task. We used time-related words referring to different exact durations (e.g. second; Experiment 1), and spatial-temporal metaphors (e.g. long), referring to indistinct temporal as well as spatial magnitudes (Experiment 2). In both experiments, participants over-reproduced the shorter target duration (2.4 s) and under-reproduced the longer target duration (4.8 s). In Experiment 1, participants under-reproduced the longer target duration more when they saw “week” in the training and “year” in the reproduction. Yet, we did not observe the same semantic magnitude effect in other word pairs either in Experiment 1 or 2. Overall, we did not find supporting evidence for magnitude information conveyed by language affecting subjective time estimates.

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