The role of verbal behavior on human timing
AuthorBrayko, Carolyn Anne
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The predominant literature on time takes a decisively mentalistic view of timing which involves the modeling of internal timing devices. While the popular vein of timing research has produced large quantities of data on timing, still relatively little is known about tracking time for minutes at a time, over a period of time. Taking a behavior analytic approach, time is defined based on environmental change, and the act of tracking time is attending to relevant changing environmental change. This dissertation investigated the extensive philosophical and empirical literature regarding psychological timing. Focusing particularly on verbal humans, the discussion explores the opportunities for a more pragmatic approach to studying time, increasing the chances for future applied research. More specifically, the aim for the conducted studies were twofold: investigate the general patterns of timing responses in humans for longer durations (i.e., three minutes) over a sustained period (i.e., 30 minutes) and explore the conditions under which different verbal stimuli establish stimulus control over timing behavior. Results indicated that sampled groups tended to underestimate time when providing time estimates and overestimate time when producing intervals. Providing verbal antecedents successfully prompted the self-generation of timing rules, however, timing methods only appeared to effectively reduce timing error when participants’ timing responses were also verbal (i.e., time estimate). Significant interference effects were found between the two tasks required of the participants, particularly when the non-timing task presented as more challenging to the participant. The final discussion connects the dissertation findings to the existing literature and proposes promising avenues for future research.