An investigation into expected duration estimation as used as part of the time management process.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The scheduling component of the time management process was used as a 'paradigm' to develop a process model of expected duration estimation. The main contention of the model is that people will attempt to estimate the expected duration of an upcoming event by 'reflecting' back upon memories of similar events. Although it is presumed that this 'reflection' will often involve reconstructing event/s from memory traces they will often appear (to the estimator) to be a verisimilar representation of a specific event. A time management context was also utilised to conduct four experiments that explored components of the expected duration estimation model. Experiment 1 explored the effect that presenting a highly salient, similar to-be-estimated task had on a subsequent task estimate. Participants in this experiment tended to allocate significantly less time to the completion of a task if they had previously estimated the expected duration of a similar, shorter task. Conversely, they tended to allocate significantly more time to the completion of a task if they had previously estimated the expected duration of a similar but longer task. Experiment 2 investigated the importance of appropriate temporal boundaries when making an expected duration estimate. Participants in this experiment were required to provide expected duration estimates for tasks under varying remote temporal boundary scenarios. It was found that remote externally derived temporal boundaries significantly affect expected duration estimates. Experiment 3 and 4 looked at the effect that the tendency to provide estimates in the form of prototypical temporal values had on accuracy. Additionally, these two experiments investigated whether chunking tasks together for scheduling purposes would help overcome estimation inaccuracies presumed to be partly due to the predisposition to round estimates to prototypical temporal values. The majority of estimates from both experiments could be categorised as being prototypical temporal values. The chunking together of the tasks used in Experiment 3 resulted in a significant increase in estimation accuracy, however it had the opposite effect in Experiment 4, which utilised somewhat longer tasks.