Dual-tasking, temporal embedding or having fun: When does time fly?

  • Sonia Vilches-Montero

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Time is a major variable of interest to consumer behaviour theory. However, the debate regarding how to conceptualize and theorize time in consumer research still remains unsolved and a “lack of theoretical development” in the discipline has been acknowledged (Bettany & Gatrell, 2009). Using two experimental studies, this dissertation moves into an exploration of the “neural-clock model” according to which individuals are expected to generate a decision about the passage of time based on the amount of interval-filling information available in memory. Taken together, findings from these two studies show that subjective time deviates from real time, and time perception is significantly affected by active information processing, time delay and stimulus’ level of enjoyment. Most important, findings provide evidence for theoretical discussions and new research avenues. Time perception for events past is significantly distorted when subjects are cued to reconstruct and estimate the experience as a whole, as opposed to retrieving and estimating its different subparts. Both studies illustrate that in time perception “the whole is not equal to the sum of its parts”, and this effect is enhanced when duration estimates are produced after a time delay and when subjects perform active stimulus information processing. This is an interesting finding because it provides support for the application of literature in event structure and memory psychophysics regarding reconstruction of physical objects and events into time perception research. Thus, findings show that time perception seems to depend on how individuals reconstruct the experience, and not only on the amount of information stored in memory, as the neural-clock model proposes. We know that misestimating time has profound ramifications on consumer behaviour, and marketing researchers have dedicated considerable effort to understanding the effects that time perceptions play in consumers’ decision-making. However, very little is known regarding how marketers may distort the subjective experience of time to their own benefit. This dissertation attempts to fill that gap.
Date of Award8 Oct 2011
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMark T. Spence (Supervisor)

Cite this