How do changes in speed affect the perception of duration?

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2011 Oct;37(5):1617-27. doi: 10.1037/a0022193.


Six experiments investigated how changes in stimulus speed influence subjective duration. Participants saw rotating or translating shapes in three conditions: constant speed, accelerating motion, and decelerating motion. The distance moved and average speed were the same in all three conditions. In temporal judgment tasks, the constant-speed objects seemed to last longer than the decelerating objects, which in turn seemed to last longer than the accelerating stimuli. In temporal reproduction tasks, the difference between accelerating and decelerating stimuli disappeared; furthermore, watching an accelerating shape lengthened the apparent duration of the subsequent (static) display. These results (a) suggest that temporal judgment and reproduction can dissociate for moving stimuli because the stimulus influences the apparent duration of the subsequent interval, and (b) constrain theories of time perception, including those which emphasize memory storage, those which emphasize the existence of a pacemaker-accumulator timing system, and those which emphasize the division of attention between temporal and non-temporal information processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration*
  • Adolescent
  • Attention
  • Biological Clocks
  • Cues
  • Deceleration*
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Motion Perception*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Time Perception*
  • Young Adult