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

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


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Hearing
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Time Factors
  • Time Perception*
  • Young Adult

Grant support

This research was funded by the British Academy ( The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.