Does Subjective Time Cost Explain Cognitive Task Choices?


Does Subjective Time Cost Explain Cognitive Task Choices?


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Dawn McBride

Mentor Department



Previous research (Potts et al., 2018; Rosenbaum & Bui, 2019) suggests that participants' time estimates for completing tasks is the primary predictive factor of task choice. However, these past studies have only compared a perceptual-motor task with a cognitive task. The current study compares cognitive tasks with other cognitive tasks in an attempt to more broadly generalize these findings. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to investigate subjective time as a predictive factor in cognitive task choices. Participants were given instructions on the three tasks (number-sorting, item generation, and addition/subtraction problems) that varied in difficulty level (low, medium, and high), and then made an estimate of how long each task would take them to complete at the medium difficulty level. Participants were then presented with trials on which two of the three tasks were shown at one of the three difficulty levels and were asked to choose to complete one of the tasks. Results indicated that participants’ subjective time estimates were not a predictor of task choices among these cognitive tasks. However, choice data did indicate that participants preferred the number sorting task to the other tasks at the medium and high difficulty levels. Future research should further investigate difficulty level and other possible factors that influence task choice because subjective time estimates was not shown to be predictive of task choices in these results.

Does Subjective Time Cost Explain Cognitive Task Choices?