The Temporal Dimension of Social Episodes: Position Effect in Time Judgments of Unfilled Intervals


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Laurette Dubé, Faculty of Management, McGill University, 1001 Sherbrooke W., Montreal, Quebec H3A 1G5, Canada.


An experiment was conducted to test the prediction, derived from field theory, that unfilled intervals at the core of a social episode (in-process) are perceived to last longer than unfilled intervals at the beginning (preprocess) or toward the end of the social episode (postprocess). As expected, individuals who judged in-process unfilled intervals overestimated their duration and judged them to last longer than individuals who judged preprocess or postprocess unfilled intervals. Moreover, this finding was observed in both immediate and delayed time duration estimates, and the overestimation effect for in-process intervals was stronger in the remote than in the immediate estimates. Relations to prior research on delays in services and implications for the management of services are discussed.