Time Flies When You’re Having Fun: The Influence of Continuous Attention on the Perception of Time

Chelsea Donaldson, Briana Paulman, University of Oklahoma

Full manuscript: www.kon.org/urc/v12/donaldson.html

Abstract Attentional models of time perception suggest that when more attention is given to non-temporal information processing, less attentional resources are allocated to temporal processing, which results in misperceptions of time. The current study sought to support these models through manipulating attention toward a slideshow, and thus indirectly manipulating the allocated attention toward temporal processing. Although two groups viewed a slideshow of the same duration (102 seconds), the continuous attention group viewed 52 pictures at two seconds each, while the non-continuous attention group viewed 17 pictures at two seconds each plus four-second blank screen intervals between pictures. In accordance with attentional models, we predicted that continuous attention toward the slideshow would result in less accurate time estimations compared to the condition that included blank screen intervals.

Results confirmed this hypothesis, suggesting that continuous attention toward a task results in less accurate perceptions of time compared to conditions in which blank screen intervals have allowed for attention to revert back to temporal processing. Although previous research in this area used cognitively active tasks to manipulate attentional resources, the passive nature of the task in this study added a new form of credibility to the attentional models of time perception.

Read the full manuscript: www.kon.org/urc/v12/donaldson.html