Guiseppe G. Miranda, Maura E. Wolfe, Rachel M. Major



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The question for this research was to determine whether or not manipulating perceived time progression (PTP) would influence how individuals performed on a vigilance task (sustained focus of attention on a perceptual or auditory task). Past research by Sackett et al. (2010) showed that when participants experienced a task in a shorter amount of time than expected, they would rate that time passed more quickly, and that the task was more enjoyable and engaging. However, when the task took longer than the time expected, the opposite would be found for each type of rating. Expanding upon this research, the purpose of this study was to determine if the perceived workload and stress associated with a vigilance task depend upon the perceived temporal context in which that task is performed (Dillard et al., 2013). This was examined by creating a mismatch between the participants’ expectations about how long they would perform the task and the actual time they were engaged in the task (Sackett et al.). Specifically, participants completed a 12-minute vigilance task but were informed the task would last either 6 (time “drags”), 12, or 24 (time “flies”) minutes. In each of these conditions, the participants monitored a computer for the occurrence of a target letter (i.e., the letter “O”) within a repetitive series of non-target letters (i.e., a “D” or a mirrored “D”). Participants then provided subjective ratings of the workload associated with each condition. Since passing time is related to task demand, we expect to see one of two possibilities. The first is that in the time drags condition there will be an increase in perceived workload in comparison to that in the time flies condition (Dillard et al.). The second possibility is that vigilance tasks are going to be perceived as difficult regardless of the condition.

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Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Susan T. Davis

Primary Advisor's Department



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Does Time Fly or Drag? Maybe it Depends on How Long You Think it Takes