Time flies faster under time pressure

Acta Psychol (Amst). 2018 Apr;185:81-86. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2018.01.014. Epub 2018 Feb 6.


We examined the effects of time pressure on duration estimation in a verbal estimation task and a production task. In both temporal tasks, participants had to solve mazes in two conditions of time pressure (with or without), and with three different target durations (30 s, 60 s, and 90 s). In each trial of the verbal estimation task, participants had to estimate in conventional time units (minutes and seconds) the amount of time that had elapsed since they started to solve the maze. In the production task, they had to press a key while solving the maze when they thought that the trial's duration had reached a target value. Results showed that in both tasks, durations were judged longer with time pressure than without it. However, this temporal overestimation under time pressure did not increase with the length of the target duration. These results are discussed within the framework of scalar expectancy theory.

Keywords: Arousal; Attention; Time estimation; Time pressure; Time production.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Problem Solving / physiology*
  • Thinking / physiology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult