Investigations of personal tempo.
thesisposted on 19.11.2015, 08:57 by G. L. Davies
A number of previous authors have investigated individual differences in the tempi at which people perform everyday activities such as walking, speaking and writing. The present work consists of seven studies of the tempi which subjects spontaneously adopt when performing simple laboratory tasks, particularly repetitive motor activities such as tapping. In the first experiment, intercorrelational data were reported which contradicted the view that there is a unitary "personal tempo", though clusters of inter- correlated activities were obtained. In the second study, "spontaneous" and "maximum" tempi were compared, previous work on this question being considered methodologically unsound. It was concluded that there is little or no common variance between speeds elicited by "spontaneous" and "maximum" tempo instructions. Later experiments were concerned with the question as to whether there might exist a "preferred rhythm" --- a rhythm of performance which the subject adopts whenever the conditions of the task permit him to do so. Evidence in favour of this suggestion was obtained in the first experiment, but the third and fourth experiments, which were designed to test a prediction derived from it, failed to support the hypothesis. This negative conclusion was further supported in a study in which subjects were paced at rates other than that which they spontaneously adopted, and in which they displayed no tendency to depart from the imposed ("non-preferred") rate when presented with an opportunity to do so. Finally, an experiment was performed which demonstrated no significant difference between the test-retest reliabilities of the speed which the subject spontaneously adopts and speeds arbitrarily imposed by the experimenter. It was concluded that there was no need for the hypothesis of a "special" or "preferred" rhythm with these tasks.