DOI: 10.14704/nq.2009.7.1.206

Remembering the Duration of Joyful and Sad Musical Excerpts: Assessment with Three Estimation Methods

Nicolas Bisson, Simon Tobin, Simon Grondin


Sixty participants were asked to listen to two musical excerpts, one expected to generate joy and the other to generate sadness, and to complete a cognitive task between the musical excerpts. The task and excerpts lasted 180, 300, or 420 seconds. After listening to the excerpts and completing the cognitive task, the participants were asked to estimate retrospectively the duration of each excerpt and the cognitive task on the basis of three methods: verbal estimates (chronometric units), relative estimates of the three tasks based on the segmentation of a line, and estimates with line drawing in comparison with a standard line. Participants judged the duration of the joyful musical excerpt as longer than that of the cognitive task and systematically underestimated the duration of the cognitive task, i.e., judged it to be much briefer than it really was. This basic finding was consistent over the three methods. The sadness excerpt led to longer perceived duration than the cognitive condition only with the verbal and relative estimates methods. Also, there were systematic underestimations of long intervals and overestimations of short intervals in all conditions, except with the method involving a standard in the specific case of sadness. In general, there was more consistency between the verbal and relative methods than between the verbal method and the one based on the comparison with a standard.


Retrospective timing, emotion, time perception

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