Validating virtual reality for time perception research: Virtual reality changes expectations about the duration of physical processes, but not the sense of time

Johanna Bogon, Julian Högerl, Martin Kocur, Christian Wolff, Niels Henze, Martin Riemer

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelBegutachtung


Immersive virtual reality (VR) provides a versatile method for investigating human time perception, because it allows the manipulation and control of relevant variables (e.g., the speed of environmental changes) that cannot be modified in the real world. However, an important premise for interpreting the results of VR studies, namely that the method itself does not affect time perception, has received little attention. Here we tested this assumption by comparing timing performance in a real environment and a VR scenario. Participants performed two timing tasks, requiring the production of intervals defined either by numerical values ("eight seconds") or by a physical process (“the time it takes for a bottle to run out when turned over"). We found that the experience of immersive VR exclusively altered judgments about the duration of physical processes, whereas judgments about the duration of abstract time units were unaffected. These results demonstrate that effects of VR on timing performance are not driven by changes in time perception itself, but rather by altered expectations regarding the duration of physical processes. The present study validates the use of VR in time perception research and strengthens the interpretation of changed timing behaviour induced by manipulations within VR.
FachzeitschriftBehavior Research Methods
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 26 Sep. 2023