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Experimental and Theoretical Psychology

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Research on Time Estimation

Time estimation is a very interesting phenomenon. We do not have a sense for it - this diffentiates time estimation from other psychic perceptions like vision or sensation in general. So, how can we estimate time if we don't have a sensor for it? The answer for this may be very difficult - my approach is a very simple one: The most important organ in time estimation is our memory! Why? Because we can sample the past, and depending on the intensity and frequency of these samples, we can estimate how much time has elapsed. And because we use our memory, time estimation is subject to large errors depending on the tasks during the past interval ("a watched pot never boils").

In a small series of experiments, phenomena of time estimation have been analyzed. The different studies deal with the following issues:

A comparison of the Processing-Effort-Approach With the Change-Model showed that neither the one nor the other are potent enough to predict the data pattern. [Abstract ZEAP 1988 from Funke (1988)]

Levels-of-Processing seems to be the approch which combines best basic research on memory with research on time estimation. [Abstract SZfPs 1991 from Funke & Grube-Unglaub (1991)]

Very important is the observation that time estimation is disturbed in patients with frobal lobe deficits and also in alcoholics (Korsakoff syndrome). We are currently underway to study new diagnostic approaches to frontal lobe patients by means of script-monitoring techniques.

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Last modified on 19.12.2001 by JF.