Sigmoid Perception: Lateness

Clara and I were running late a few times in the last couple days, and we noticed that the difference between arriving on time and arriving five minutes late feels much bigger than the difference between arriving 10 minutes late and 15 minutes late, or between an hour late and an hour and five minutes late.

This is an example of sigmoid perceptions: putting more weight on small differences the closer they are to a baseline, and paying relatively little attention to small differences between extreme values. Here’s how I roughly categorize my lateness to a normal appointment, based on how much later I arrived than I intended:

IMG_1140How I view my lateness, as a function of the difference
between my arrival time and my intended arrival time.

That S-shaped curve is the hallmark of a sigmoid function. Sigmoid perception strikes again!


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