Individual differences in temporal perception: The role of working memory
How attention is directed affects the perception of time, and ability to control attention is reflected in measures of working memory span. Low-span individuals have more difficulty maintaining focus on a task than high-span individuals, particularly when faced with contextual distracters. This experiment sought to determine the effect of working memory span on perception of temporal duration while performing a concurrent cognitive task. It was predicted that low-span participants would be more likely to have attention directed away from the cognitive task and towards the contextual distraction of time, and consequently, would be more accurate on monitoring time, but less accurate on the primary task. Indeed, the results show that when performing both tasks simultaneously, low-span participants were less accurate than high-span on the math task, but were more accurate on the timing task. High working memory individuals, conversely, were more accurate in the non-temporal cognitive task at the cost of monitoring duration.