The effects of prior experience on estimating the duration of simple tasks

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research provides conflicting evidence regarding the effects of prior experience on estimates of task duration. Research supporting the planning fallacy suggests that people tend to ignore information about their previous task performance, whereas other work indicates that time estimates are influenced by the duration of a just-completed similar task. The present research examined whether information about previous tasks was linked to temporal misestimation on subsequent tasks. Experiment 1 revealed that the accuracy of completion time predictions on an anagram task was influenced by the degree of misestimation in the perceived duration of the preceding task. In Experiment 2, prospective estimates were found to exceed actual time, whereas the direction in which predictions were misestimated (under or overestimation) differed according to the duration of the just-completed task. These findings suggest that task-related information is not only used when predicting task duration but also affects temporal misestimation. This research is discussed in the context of bias in predictions of task duration and the allocation of attentional resources in dual task situations in the prospective time estimation paradigm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-100
Number of pages18
JournalCahiers de Psychologie Cognitive
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


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