Word Distance Affects Subjective Temporal Distance

Frontiers in Psychology 12 (2021)
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Abstract

The kappa effect is a well-reported phenomenon in which spatial distance between discrete stimuli affects the perception of temporal distance demarcated by the corresponding stimuli. Here, we report a new phenomenon that we propose to designate as the lexical kappa effect in which word distance, a non-magnitude relationship of discrete stimuli that exists in the lexical space of the mental lexicon, affects the perception of temporal distance. A temporal bisection task was used to assess the subjective perception of the time interval demarcated by two successively presented words. Word distance was manipulated by varying the semantic or phonological similarity between the two words. Results showed that the temporal distance between the two words was perceived to be shorter when the corresponding two words were lexically closer. We explain this effect within the internal clock framework by assuming faster detection of the word that terminated timing when it is preceded by a semantically or phonologically similar word.

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Jun Wang
Zhejiang University

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