The Developmental Profile of Temporal Binding: From Childhood to Adulthood

Sara Lorimer, Teresa McCormack, Emma Blakey, David Lagnado, Christoph Hoerl, Emma Tecwyn, Marc Buehner

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Abstract

Temporal binding refers to a phenomenon whereby the time interval between a cause and its effect is perceived as shorter than the same interval separating two unrelated events. We examined the developmental profile of this phenomenon by comparing the performance of groups of children (aged 6-7-, 7-8-, and 9-10- years) and adults on a novel interval estimation task. In Experiment 1, participants made judgments about the time interval between i) their button press and a rocket launch, and ii) a non-causal predictive signal and rocket launch. In Experiment 2, an additional causal condition was included in which participants made judgments about the interval between an experimenter’s button press and the launch of a rocket. Temporal binding was demonstrated consistently and did not change in magnitude with age: estimates of delay were shorter in causal contexts for both adults and children. Additionally, the magnitude of the binding effect was greater when participants themselves were the cause of an outcome compared to when they were mere spectators. This suggests that although causality underlies the binding effect, intentional action may modulate its magnitude. Again, this was true of both adults and children. Taken together, these results are the first to suggest that the binding effect is present and developmentally constant from childhood into adulthood.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Early online date02 Jun 2020
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 02 Jun 2020

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