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Temporal binding is enhanced in social contexts

Temporal binding (TB) refers to an underestimation of time intervals between two events, most commonly for actions and their effects. This temporal contraction is measurable for both perceived changes in social stimuli such as faces, as well as for interactions with a partner. We investigated TB in two separate experiments to uncover the individual influences of (i) participants’ belief in an interaction with a human partner (as compared to a computer), and (ii) a face-like stimulus versus an abstract stimulus mediating the interaction.
The results show that TB is more pronounced when self-initiated actions result in a personal event as opposed to a mere physical effect, being suggestive of a “social hyperbinding.” The social hyperbinding effect appeared to be driven both by the belief in interacting with another person and by a face-like stimulus. However, there seemed to be no further enhancing effect when combining the top-down processes (“beliefs”) with the bottom-up processes (“perceptions”).
These findings suggest a prioritization of social information for TB regardless of whether this information is introduced by top-down (beliefs) or bottom-up information (stimuli). Our results add to existing literature demonstrating an increase in action-event monitoring for social cues.

Vogel 2021

Figure. Mean time estimates (separately depicted for 400-ms delays in the left graph and 700-ms delays in theright graph) for the physical stimuli (red) and the personal stimuli (blue). The temporal binding effect is illustrated by the difference between observant and operant conditions. The binding effect is stronger for personal conditions as compared to physical conditions.


Vogel, D.H.V., Jording, M., Esser, C., Weiss, P.H., & Vogeley, K. (2021). Temporal binding is enhanced in social contexts. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

Correspondence to:

Dr. David Vogel