Psychological Research

, Volume 70, Issue 2, pp 77–87 | Cite as

Perceived duration of expected and unexpected stimuli

  • Rolf UlrichEmail author
  • Judith Nitschke
  • Thomas Rammsayer
Original Article


Three experiments assessed whether perceived stimulus duration depends on whether participants process an expected or an unexpected visual stimulus. Participants compared the duration of a constant standard stimulus with a variable comparison stimulus. Changes in expectancy were induced by presenting one type of comparison more frequently than another type. Experiment 1 used standard durations of 100 and 400 ms, and Experiments 2 and 3 durations of 400 and 800 ms. Stimulus frequency did not affect perceived duration in Experiment 1. In Experiments 2 and 3, however, frequent comparisons were perceived as shorter than infrequent ones, and discrimination performance was better for infrequent comparisons. Overall, this study supports the notion that infrequent stimuli increase the speed of an internal pacemaker.


Comparison Stimulus Stimulus Frequency Constant Error Difference Limen Weber Fraction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (RA 450/9–3; UL 116/6–3). We would like to thank Golde Dieterichs, Annette Mannhart, and Susana Ruiz for experimental assistance and Karin Bausenhart, Simon Grondin, Stefan Mattes, Jochen Müsseler, Bettina Rolke, Hannes Schröter, and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rolf Ulrich
    • 1
    Email author
  • Judith Nitschke
    • 1
  • Thomas Rammsayer
    • 2
  1. 1.Psychologisches InstitutUniversität TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Universität GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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