Skip to main content


Swipe om te navigeren naar een ander artikel

21-07-2021 | Review Open Access

The categorical use of a continuous time representation

Psychological Research
Alessia Beracci, Julio Santiago, Marco Fabbri
Belangrijke opmerkingen

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


The abstract concept of time is mentally represented as a spatially oriented line, with the past associated with the left space and the future associated with the right. Although the line is supposed to be continuous, most available evidence is also consistent with a categorical representation that only discriminates between past and future. The aim of the present study was to test the continuous or categorical nature of the mental timeline. Italian participants judged the temporal reference of 20 temporal expressions by pressing keys on either the left or the right. In Experiment 1 (N = 32), all words were presented at the center of the screen. In Experiment 2 (N = 32), each word was presented on the screen in a central, left, or right position. In Experiment 3 (N = 32), all text was mirror-reversed. In all experiments, participants were asked to place the 20 temporal expressions on a 10-cm line. The results showed a clear Spatial–TEmporal Association of Response Codes (STEARC) effect which did not vary in strength depending on the location of the temporal expressions on the line. However, there was also a clear Distance effect: latencies were slower for words that were closer to the present than further away. We conclude that the mental timeline is a continuous representation that can be used in a categorical way when an explicit past vs. future discrimination is required by the task.

Onze productaanbevelingen

BSL Psychologie Totaal

Met BSL Psychologie Totaal blijf je als professional steeds op de hoogte van de nieuwste ontwikkelingen binnen jouw vak. Met het online abonnement heb je toegang tot een groot aantal boeken, protocollen, vaktijdschriften en e-learnings op het gebied van psychologie en psychiatrie. Zo kun je op je gemak en wanneer het jou het beste uitkomt verdiepen in jouw vakgebied.

Over dit artikel