Exploring the time prediction process: The effects of task experience and complexity on prediction accuracy

Kevin E. Thomas*, Stephen E. Newstead, Simon J. Handley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Whilst considerable research shows that people tend to underestimate their task completion times, there is little research concerning factors that mediate the time prediction process. In Experiments 1 to 3 a simple, well-structured task, the 3-disk Tower of Hanoi, showed no evidence of under-estimation; in fact, participants consistently overestimated the duration of this task. However, predictions were more accurate among participants who acquired some task experience beforehand. Task complexity was also found to be an important factor since the more cognitively complex 4- and 5-disk versions produced less biased predictions. Using a cognitively undemanding disk movement task, we found a general temporal overestimation in Experiment 4, thus suggesting that task duration might be responsible for the general lack of underestimation in the present studies. These results have implications for the planning of tasks in everyday life, and also suggest conditions under which time prediction accuracy can be improved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-673
Number of pages19
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Volume17
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the time prediction process: The effects of task experience and complexity on prediction accuracy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this