How Long Did That Take? the Role of Causal Attribution in Estimating Elapsed Time

David Faro, London Business School, UK
Ann McGill, University of Chicago, USA
Reid Hastie, University of Chicago, USA
Recent research has shown that people judge the time between causally related events to be shorter than that between causally unrelated events. We test the hypothesis that this effect of causality reflects a default physics-based view of causality. Consistent with this hypothesis, we find that the time-shortening tendency persists for causes that have a dissipating force over time, but is muted for causes that exert a stable or increasing force over time. Further, we find that low NFC participants, whom we hypothesize are more likely to rely on the default physics-based view, give shorter time estimates than high NFC participants.
[ to cite ]:
David Faro, Ann McGill, and Reid Hastie (2007) ,"How Long Did That Take? the Role of Causal Attribution in Estimating Elapsed Time", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 34, eds. Gavan Fitzsimons and Vicki Morwitz, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 407-411.