Time in perspective

Psychol Sci. 2013 Aug;24(8):1477-86. doi: 10.1177/0956797612473486. Epub 2013 Jun 17.

Abstract

Perceptions of time and space are subject to strong contextual effects. Like their physical counterparts, they appear to be bound together. The perceived spatial extent of a constant retinal extent increases with its perceived distance from the observer. The perceived duration of a moving object increases with its covered angular trajectory. It follows that the perceived duration of moving objects covering identical angular trajectories should also increase with distance. Using three-dimensionally rendered balls rolling for 600 ms, 900 ms, and 1,200 ms and covering 5.5°, 11°, and 22° trajectories in fronto-parallel planes of a linear-perspective scene, we showed that perceived duration dilates by up to 50% as the fronto-parallel plane of the rolling ball recedes from the observer. Such time dilation is mostly contributed to by the smaller size of the distant ball. As in a three-dimensional world, objects' sizes and their covered trajectories per time unit decrease with distance, and as the two factors lead to opposite perceived-duration effects, the results suggest a form of time constancy in a three-dimensional world.

Keywords: Kappa effect; Ponzo illusion; cognition; linear perspective; perceived duration; speed/time constancy; time estimation; time perception; visual perception.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Distance Perception / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illusions / physiology*
  • Male
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Young Adult