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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e59847. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059847. Epub 2013 Mar 28.

Do changes in the pace of events affect one-off judgments of duration?

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Department of Psychology, University of Essex, Colchester, United Kingdom.


Five experiments examined whether changes in the pace of external events influence people's judgments of duration. In Experiments 1a-1c, participants heard pieces of music whose tempo accelerated, decelerated, or remained constant. In Experiment 2, participants completed a visuo-motor task in which the rate of stimulus presentation accelerated, decelerated, or remained constant. In Experiment 3, participants completed a reading task in which facts appeared on-screen at accelerating, decelerating, or constant rates. In all experiments, the physical duration of the to-be-judged interval was the same across conditions. We found no significant effects of temporal structure on duration judgments in any of the experiments, either when participants knew that a time estimate would be required (prospective judgments) or when they did not (retrospective judgments). These results provide a starting point for the investigation of how temporal structure affects one-off judgments of duration like those typically made in natural settings.

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