Another dimension of psychological time: judgements of anticipated future duration


Gal Zauberman

The Wharton School, Marketing Department, University of Pennsylvania, 700 Huntsman Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

B. Kyu Kim


Euresis Journal, volume 7 (2014), pages 61-68

Whereas a great deal of research has examined the perception of elapsed time (time that has passed), little is currently known about how people perceive future durations (time that will pass). The current article discusses our findings on judgements of future durations that have important ramifications in understanding individuals’ intertemporal decisions. Our work demonstrates that people do not perceive future durations accurately, but rather subjectively scale them non-linearly (i.e., they show diminishing sensitivity to longer durations), consistent with scale classic psychological processes. We show that this property of non-linear scaling explains hyperbolic discounting, or why the tendency to prefer smaller-sooner rewards over larger later rewards becomes disproportionately stronger when the sooner rewards is available immediately. Our works further show that judgement of future durations is susceptible to a range of contextual influences, including as time-space interdependence, sexually arousing images, and tempo, which in turn then influence their valuation for delayed outcomes.