The effect of facial attractiveness on temporal perception

Cogn Emot. 2013;27(7):1292-304. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2013.769426. Epub 2013 Feb 15.


Previous research suggests that feelings of fear, dislike, shame and sadness affect our perception of duration (Droit-Volet et al., 2004; Gil et al., 2009). The current study sought to expand our understanding of the variables which moderate temporal perception by examining whether the attractiveness of a face influenced its perceived duration. Participants completed a verbal estimation task in which they judged the duration of attractive, unattractive and neutral faces. The results showed that participants underestimated the duration of unattractive faces relative to attractive and neutral faces. Estimates of unattractive faces were also less accurate than those of the attractive and neutral faces. The results are consistent with Gil et al.'s (2009) suggestion that the duration of disliked stimuli are underestimated relative to liked and neutral stimuli because they detract attention from temporal perception. Analysis of the slope and intercept of the estimation gradients supports Zakay and Block's (1997) suggestion that reduced attention to time results in a multiplicative underestimation of duration.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Beauty*
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Time Perception*