Perceived Causality As a Cue to Temporal Distance

David Faro, University of Chicago
France Leclerc, University of Chicago
Reid Hastie, University of Chicago
EXTENDED ABSTRACT - How long has it been since your last visit to the dentist? How long ago did you purchase your CD player? How much time has elapsed between the birth of your first child and the purchase of your new car? Elapsed time questions are frequently asked in consumer and policy surveys and are the basis for important decisions. The literature on survey research suggests that specific temporal information (e.g. date or duration) is rarely available or used as the basis for time-related judgments (Tourangeau, Rips and Rasinski 2000). Rather, when asked to provide temporal judgments, people usually engage in reconstructive inference processes. Such processes entail the use of cues such as landmark events, personal life contexts, knowledge about generic events, background assumptions about boundaries on event horizons and ease of recall. In this research, we propose that people use the strength of a causal relationship between two events as a temporal heuristic to infer elapsed time between these events.
[ to cite ]:
David Faro, France Leclerc, and Reid Hastie (2005) ,"Perceived Causality As a Cue to Temporal Distance", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 32, eds. Geeta Menon and Akshay R. Rao, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 525-525.