Musical Effects on Individual Time Perception

Nicole Coleman and Dr. Nicholas Van Horn, Department of Psychology, Capital University, 1 College and Main, Columbus OH 43209-2394

Time is commonly thought of as the ticking of seconds on a clock, an invariant constant in which everyone is affected equally. However, an individual’s perception of time is often not a true depiction of this “reality” and everyday events, such as music, can influence this perception. Components of music such as tempo, arousal, and an individual’s music preference and expertise have been shown to significantly affect one’s time estimation ability. It appears little if any research has been done to look at the effect of lyrics on this phenomenon. This study aimed to investigate what effects tempo (fast and slow) and lyrics (with and without) had on an individual’s perception of the duration of visual and auditory stimuli during a concurrent task. To assess these variables, participants completed a duration estimation task in four conditions—fast versus slow tempo, and lyrical versus instrumental—for both visual and auditory stimuli. On a given trial, the observer indicated by button press how long a previously presented stimulus had lasted. Ambient music for each condition was played synchronously with the task. A post-survey controled for participants’ musical expertise and familiarity with the music. Results showed tempo caused perceptual shortening of stimulus duration. These effects varied depending on whether the concurrent task was visual or auditory as visual stimuli lead to an underestimation in time and auditory lead to an overestimation in time. Lyrics appeared to have no significant effect on individual time perception in this study. Findings from this study could provide further insight into the relationships between music, time perception, and environmental stimuli, and could possibly give ideal conditions for waiting and time-consuming situations. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Nicole Coleman

Institution: Capital University

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 10
Date/Time: Wed 1:30pm-2:30pm
Session Number: 6583