Demand characteristics can explain the appearance of forward telescoping, but cannot explain backwards telescoping and can not explain the inaccurate recall of dates when respondents are not led to believe that a certain answer is desirable.
People can use associated prototype events to help them recall events in the same way they use normal events.Although the prototype model is based on general events and the associative model is based on actual events, both have been supported in experiments.When asked questions about frequency, people often answer using phrases like "all the time" and "everyday" and therefore don't account for exceptions.Some researchers perceive this over reporting as telescoping because people are including events beyond the given period, but the over reporting could be due to the demand characteristics of the study.This explanation is one reason for why people perceive time as moving faster as they age, but it does not take into account changes in the amount of telescoping that occurs with age.
People are best at accurately identifying dates when they are ages 35–50.
This over reporting is because participants include events beyond the period, either events that are too recent for the target time period (backward telescoping) or events that are too old for the target time period (forward telescoping).
Events that occurred more recently than 3 years ago are subject to backward telescoping, and events that occurred more than 3 years in the past are subject to forward telescoping.
Forward telescoping has been found in reported age of initial use of cigarettes and in reported age of beginning daily smoking.
Forward telescoping of risky behaviors can be problematic in monitoring patients for issues associated with early onset drug use because if they are misclassified, they may not be correctly monitored.
Marketing firms often use surveys to ask when consumers last bought a product, and government agencies often use surveys to discover information about drug abuse or about victimology.