Sample Size Bias In Retrospective Estimates Of Average Duration

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Andrew Smith Ph.D, Associate Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:

Abstract: People often estimate the average duration of several events (e.g., on average, how long does it take to drive from one's home to his or her office). While there is a great deal of research investigating estimates of duration for a single event, few studies have examined estimates when people must average across numerous stimuli or events. The current studies were designed to fill this gap by examining how people's estimates of average duration were influenced by the number of stimuli being averaged (i.e., the sample size). Based on research investigating the sample size bias, we predicted that participants' judgments of average duration would increase as the sample size increased. Across four studies, we demonstrated a sample size bias for estimates of average duration with different judgment types (numeric estimates and comparisons), study designs (between and within-subjects), and paradigms (observing images and performing tasks). The results are consistent with the more general notion that psychological representations of magnitudes in one dimension (e.g., quantity) can influence representations of magnitudes in another dimension (e.g., duration).

Additional Information

Smith, A.R., Rule, S., & Price, P.C. (2017). Sample size bias in retrospective estimates of average duration, Acta Psychologica, Volume 176, 2017, Pages 39-46. Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2017
Sample size bias, Time perception, Judgements of duration, Temporal cognition

Email this document to