Frame of Reference

Kevin Lewis

January 08, 2022

Time Periods Feel Longer When They Span More Category Boundaries: Evidence From the Lab and the Field
Kristin Donnelly, Giovanni Compiani & Ellen Evers
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Seven experiments (total N = 3,509) and a large field dataset (N = 1,820,671) demonstrate that time periods of equal duration are not always perceived as equivalent. We find that periods feel longer when they span more time categories (e.g., hour, month). For example, periods like 1:45pm - 3:15pm and March 31st - April 6th (boundary-expanded) feel longer than, say, 1:15pm - 2:45pm and April 2nd - April 8th (boundary-compressed). Reflecting this, participants anticipated completing more work during boundary-expanded periods than equivalent boundary-compressed periods. This effect appears to result from the salience and placement of time boundaries. As a consequence, participants preferred scheduling pleasant activities for boundary-expanded and unpleasant activities for boundary-compressed periods. Moreover, participants were willing to pay more to avoid - and required more money to endure - a long wait when it was presented as boundary-expanded. Finally, data from over 1.8 million rideshare trips suggest that consumers are more likely to choose independent rides (e.g., UberX) when they are boundary-compressed when the alternative shared option (e.g., UberPool) is boundary-expanded. Together, our studies reveal that time periods feel longer when they span more boundaries, and that this phenomenon shapes consumers' scheduling and purchasing decisions. 

Perceived Similarity of the Self to Animals, Creativity, and Anxiety: A Terror Management Analysis
Uri Lifshin et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

According to terror management theory, humans avoid death anxiety by embedding themselves within cultural worldviews that allow them to perceive themselves as more than mortal animals. However, individuals also differ in their trait-like tendency to dissociate from other animals. In six studies, we tested whether individuals who perceive themselves as more similar to animals (high-perceived similarity of the self to animals [PSSA]) invest more in creativity for terror management than low-PSSA individuals, but are also more vulnerable to experiencing anxiety and existential concerns. Supporting our hypotheses, PSSA was associated with investment in creativity and arts, especially after death primes (Studies 3 and 4). High-PSSA individuals had heightened trait anxiety and death-thought accessibility (Studies 5 and 6), and showed increased state anxiety following a negative feedback about their creativity (Study 6). Findings highlight the role of PSSA as a personality variable predicting human motivation and emotion. 

Human Vision Reconstructs Time to Satisfy Causal Constraints
Christos Bechlivanidis et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

The goal of perception is to infer the most plausible source of sensory stimulation. Unisensory perception of temporal order, however, appears to require no inference, because the order of events can be uniquely determined from the order in which sensory signals arrive. Here, we demonstrate a novel perceptual illusion that casts doubt on this intuition: In three experiments (N = 607), the experienced event timings were determined by causality in real time. Adult participants viewed a simple three-item sequence, ACB, which is typically remembered as ABC in line with principles of causality. When asked to indicate the time at which events B and C occurred, participants' points of subjective simultaneity shifted so that the assumed cause B appeared earlier and the assumed effect C later, despite participants' full attention and repeated viewings. This first demonstration of causality reversing perceived temporal order cannot be explained by postperceptual distortion, lapsed attention, or saccades. 

Colors, Emotions, and the Auction Value of Paintings
Marshall Xiaoyin Ma, Charles Noussair & Luc Renneboog
European Economic Review, forthcoming

We study pricing in the art auction market, focusing on the impact of color composition in non-figurative paintings on hammer prices and willingness-to-pay, by means of both field and laboratory data. Our field data, consisting of art auction prices, reveal a color hierarchy reflected in hammer prices: a one standard deviation increase in the percentage of blue (red) hue triggers a premium of 10.63% (4.20%). We conducted laboratory experiments in the US, China, and Europe, and elicited participants' willingness-to-pay and measured emotions. We find that blue and red paintings command a premium: blue (red) paintings generate 18.57% (17.28%) higher bids. Color influences prices through the channel of emotional pleasure rather than arousal. Our results are consistent across all three cultures and independent of individual traits such as gender, risk aversion, education and cultural background. 

The cartesian folk theater: People conceptualize consciousness as a spatio-temporally localized process in the human brain
Matthias Forstmann & Pascal Burgmer
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

The present research (total N = 2,057) tested whether people's folk conception of consciousness aligns with the notion of a "Cartesian Theater" (Dennett, 1991). More precisely, we tested the hypotheses that people believe that consciousness happens in a single, confined area (vs. multiple dispersed areas) in the human brain, and that it (partly) happens after the brain finished analyzing all available information. Further, we investigated how these beliefs are related to participants' neuroscientific knowledge as well as their reliance on intuition, and which rationale they use to explain their responses. Using a computer-administered drawing task, we found that participants located consciousness, but not unrelated neurological processes (Studies 1a and 1b) or unconscious thinking (Study 2) in a single, confined area in the prefrontal cortex, and that they considered most of the brain not involved in consciousness. Participants mostly relied on their intuitions when responding, and they were not affected by prior knowledge about the brain. Additionally, they considered the conscious experience of sensory stimuli to happen in a spatially more confined area than the corresponding computational analysis of these stimuli (Study 3). Furthermore, participants' explicit beliefs about spatial and temporal localization of consciousness (i.e., consciousness happening after the computational analysis of sensory information is completed) are independent, yet positively correlated beliefs (Study 4). Using a more elaborate measure for temporal localization of conscious experience, our final study confirmed that people believe consciousness to partly happen even after information processing is done (Study 5). 

Interpersonal Consequences of Deceptive Expressions of Sadness
Christopher Gunderson et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Emotional expressions evoke predictable responses from observers; displays of sadness are commonly met with sympathy and help from others. Accordingly, people may be motivated to feign emotions to elicit a desired response. In the absence of suspicion, we predicted that emotional and behavioral responses to genuine (vs. deceptive) expressers would be guided by empirically valid cues of sadness authenticity. Consistent with this hypothesis, untrained observers (total N = 1,300) reported less sympathy and offered less help to deceptive (vs. genuine) expressers of sadness. This effect was replicated using both posed, low-stakes, laboratory-created stimuli, and spontaneous, real, high-stakes emotional appeals to the public. Furthermore, lens models suggest that sympathy reactions were guided by difficult-to-fake facial actions associated with sadness. Results suggest that naive observers use empirically valid cues to deception to coordinate social interactions, providing novel evidence that people are sensitive to subtle cues to deception.


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