On the Experience of Time

On the Experience of Time

On the Experience of Time

On the Experience of Time

Synopsis

How do we experience time? What do we use to experience it? In a series of remarkable experiments, Robert Ornstein shows that it is difficult to maintain an "inner clock" explanation of the experience of time & postulates a cognitive, information-processing approach. This approach alone makes sense out of the very different data of the experience of time & in particular of the experience of duration-the lengthening of duration under LSD, for example, or the effects of an experience felt to be a success rather than a failure, time in sensory deprivation, the time-order effect, or the influence of the administration of a sedative or stimulant drug. Contents: The Problem of Temporal Experience. The "Sensory Process" Metaphor. The "Storage Size" Metaphor. Four Studies of the Stimulus Determinants of Duration Experience. Two Studies of Coding Processes & Duration Experience. Three Studies of Storage Size. Summary, Conclusion, & Some Speculation on Future Directions.

Excerpt

I have always wondered about time. When I was younger I felt that I could understand most processes of perception, vision, hearing, etc. (If I had learned something about psychology then, I would not have been so smug.) But time? Where did it exist? In high school, a teacher encouraged me to read about Einstein and his ideas on time. I remember that it was Lincoln Barnett The Universe and Dr Einstein which finally focused my awareness on time in psychology. From then on it was a problem which actively bothered me.

After a year or so's thought, the first experiment in this book was done. Since my thought process was not very coherent, I then jumped to another question -- memory of time intervals. This direction was suggested by Dr Albert Hastorf of Stanford University, whose gentle prodding made it clear that I did have some more coherent ideas. I did the experiment which appears seventh in this series. The others were done in rapid succession once the idea of 'storage size' came clear. Until then, I had been quite reluctant to discuss or publish my work, since I am constitutionally predisposed to consider everything an open question like Barth's character Ebenezer. But I was continually reminded by Dr Hastorf that throwing one's hands up in the air was no solution to my questions and I was forced to make some sense (to myself, at least) of the vast evidence recorded about time experience. Once done, the experiments to be carried out were most clear. They were done in essentially random order, and then given some semblance of order by the writing. Probably no author has performed his experiments in the order in which they appear.

I have had the fortune of many collaborators. Dan Bernstein . . .

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