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Using Published Trial Schematics to Assess a Brief (Spatial) History of Time: Questioning the Graphical Depiction of Experimental Procedures

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image of Timing & Time Perception

Trial schematics are ubiquitous within psychology journals articles and have the potential to inform how we think about time in space from a non-linguistic point of view. Graphical representations of trial schematics were used to compare the spatial representations of time used by the scientific community with the dominant spatial stereotypes for temporal events reported by the scientific community. From 294 observations, approximately 81% of trial schematics contained left-to-right and / or top-to-bottom representations of first-to-last events, consistent with the dominant Western spatial expressions of time. An initially counter-intuitive left-to-right but bottom-to-top spatial stereotype used in approximately 18% of schematics is discussed with respect to its potential perceptual origins. The complications that arise from the use of multiple spatial axes in the representation of time are highlighted and given the tendency for trial schematics to be informationally poor, alternative routes for the supply of thorough experimental detail are suggested.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Sussex, Falmer, BN1 9QH, UK


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