Big time is not always long: Numerical magnitude automatically affects time reproduction

Acer Y.C. Chang, Ovid J.L. Tzeng, Daisy L. Hung, Denise H. Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


To reproduce the duration of an event precisely, one needs to represent the temporal information without being influenced by other magnitude attributes (e.g., size) of the event. In the present study, however, task-irrelevant numerical magnitude automatically affected participants' reproduction of the duration of a stimulus. In Experiment 1, participants made key-press responses to reproduce the duration of numbers. Reproduced durations were shorter for small numbers (e.g., 1) than for large numbers (e.g., 9). In contrast, in Experiment 2, participants' reproductions of a standard duration were longer when their key-press response was accompanied by visual presentation of a small number than when it was accompanied by presentation of a large number. These results clearly demonstrate that number-time interference extends beyond simple mapping between stimulus categories and response alternatives. The findings support the notion that either a common magnitude representation or closely connected magnitude representations underlie numerical and temporal processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1567-1573
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • cognitive processes
  • number comprehension
  • response bias
  • time perception


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