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Duration neglect by numbers--And its elimination by graphs


  • Liersch, Michael J.
  • McKenzie, Craig R.M.


People tend to neglect duration when retrospectively evaluating aversive experiences, causing memories to be at odds with experienced pain. However, memory was not involved in the original demonstration of duration neglect. Instead, people evaluated others' experiences represented by lists of discomfort ratings. Duration was said to be neglected because attention was focused on peak and end ratings. Three experiments are reported demonstrating that graphs rather than number lists can make duration neglect disappear without increasing attention to episode duration. Graphs can eliminate duration neglect because, relative to number lists, strategies that incorporate duration are more easily employed. The results suggest that when hedonic information does not have to be remembered, people will use all, not just peak and end, moments when evaluating experiences, and that format presentation affects how people combine those moments. Caution is recommended when making theoretical and prescriptive generalizations based on duration neglect.

Suggested Citation

  • Liersch, Michael J. & McKenzie, Craig R.M., 2009. "Duration neglect by numbers--And its elimination by graphs," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 303-314, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:108:y:2009:i:2:p:303-314

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daniel Kahneman & Peter P. Wakker & Rakesh Sarin, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-406.
    2. Schkade, David A. & Kleinmuntz, Don N., 1994. "Information Displays and Choice Processes: Differential Effects of Organization, Form, and Sequence," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 319-337, March.
    3. Chu, P. C. & Spires, Eric E., 2003. "Perceptions of accuracy and effort of decision strategies," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 203-214, July.
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