The role of prior task experience in temporal misestimation

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of experience with a preceding task on the accuracy of predictions of duration was examined in three experiments, where two tasks comprising similar or different mental operators were performed consecutively. Results supported an anchoring account of misestimation, which states that misestimation occurs because predictions are anchored to the duration of the preceding task. Preceding performance of a longer task led to overestimation on a shorter task with similar mental operators (Experiment 1), whereas preceding performance of a shorter task comprising similar or different mental operators led to underestimation on a longer task (Experiments 1 to 3). Contrary to the planning fallacy account (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979), these findings indicate that preceding task performance is considered when predicting duration, but that using such information does not necessarily improve accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-240
Number of pages11
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes

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