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Vierordt’s Law for Space and Time: Hollingworth (1909) and “The Law of Central Tendency”

In: Timing & Time Perception
Author:
John H. Wearden School of Psychology, Keele University, Keele, ST5 5BG, UK

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Abstract

This article discusses material in a 1909 monograph, The Inaccuracy of Movement with Special Reference to Constant Errors, by H. L. Hollingworth, which is mostly concerned with demonstrating and accounting for what we would now call Vierordt’s Law, for judgements of both length and time. Hollingworth demonstrates Vierordt’s Law for a length reproduction task, and shows that the length which is reproduced most accurately (the indifference point) varies as a function of the range of the lengths presented. Hollingworth attributes this effect to the influence of the central tendency of the stimuli presented. He notes that this effect could be found in previous studies of time interval reproduction, but was not remarked upon. A second study also introduced error monitoring for length and time judgements. Hollingworth’s ideas echo much more recent approaches to Vierordt’s Law, some of which also use the idea that the Vierordt effect is based on the central tendency of the stimulus range from which the stimuli to be judged come.

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