AuthorsA. B. Kanten and K. Teigen
TitleCan People Predict the Effect of Temporal Distance on Task Duration Estimates?
AfilliationSoftware Engineering, Software Engineering
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011

Viewed from a distance, objects appear to be smaller. A task to be done in a year becomes simpler and more manageable than the same task starting tomorrow. But time is even more elastic. Twenty hours of work next year are viewed as a much shorter span of time than twenty hours next week. As a result, estimates of the time needed to do a specific task will increase rather than decrease with time perspective. This finding appears to be at variance with people's intuitions. In the first of two studies, we show that one group's estimate of the time needed for a clerical task to be done in a year, was twice as large as another group's estimate of the same task starting tomorrow, replicating earlier results. In the second study we asked participants in several student groups to predict the results from the first experiment. Students with very little background in psychology had no clear preference for which estimate would be larger, although they suspected there would be a difference. Second year psychology students believed, in contrast with the factual results, that the more distant estimate would be smaller, probably as a consequence of their greater familiarity with the notion of future optimism.

Citation KeySimula.simula.654