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Front Psychol. 2017 Feb 14;8:187. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00187. eCollection 2017.

Passage of Time Judgments Is Relative to Temporal Expectation.

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Department of Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo Tokyo, Japan.


Time seems to pass quickly sometimes or slowly at other times. While this belief is prevalent, the psychological bases of such judgments on speed of time have remained unclear. In this study, we tested following two hypotheses: (1) the passage of time judgment (POTJ) is a function of the discrepancy between felt duration and temporal expectation of events and (2) POTJ is based on two distinct components: post hoc comparison of expected and felt durations and online anticipation of the end of an event. In four experiments, participants engaged in N-back tasks for several minutes and rated their POTJ during the tasks. Their temporal expectations were manipulated by providing them with false instructions on task durations. The results consistently supported the hypotheses and confirmed the idea that temporal expectation plays an important role in POTJ. In addition, the current findings might explain our daily temporal experiences such as "time flies when you are having fun."


expectation; passage of time; temporal expectation; time; time perception

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