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Virtual Reality Warps your Sense of Time - Research demonstrates unique ‘time compression’ effect of virtual reality

Posted By: RumorMail
Date: Thursday, 27-May-2021 16:10:51
www.rumormill.news/173298

From Science Daily:
Virtual reality warps your sense of time

Psychology research demonstrates unique ‘time compression’ effect of virtual reality

Date:
May 14, 2021

Source:
University of California – Santa Cruz

Summary:

Psychology researchers found that playing games in virtual reality creates an effect called ‘time compression,’ where time goes by faster than you think. The research team compared time perception during gameplay using conventional monitors and virtual reality to determine that this effect is uniquely linked to the virtual reality format.

Psychology researchers at UC Santa Cruz have found that playing games in virtual reality creates an effect called “time compression,” where time goes by faster than you think. Grayson Mullen, who was a cognitive science undergraduate at the time, worked with Psychology Professor Nicolas Davidenko to design an experiment that tested how virtual reality’s effects on a game player’s sense of time differ from those of conventional monitors. The results are now published in the journal Timing & Time Perception.

Mullen designed a maze game that could be played in both virtual reality and conventional formats, then the research team recruited 41 UC Santa Cruz undergraduate students to test the game. Participants played in both formats, with researchers randomizing which version of the game each student started with. Both versions were essentially the same, but the mazes in each varied slightly so that there was no repetition between formats.

Participants were asked to stop playing the game whenever they felt like five minutes had passed. Since there were no clocks available, each person had to make this estimate based on their own perception of the passage of time.

Prior studies of time perception in virtual reality have often asked participants about their experiences after the fact, but in this experiment, the research team wanted to integrate a time-keeping task into the virtual reality experience in order to capture what was happening in the moment. Researchers recorded the actual amount of time that had passed when each participant stopped playing the game, and this revealed a gap between participants’ perception of time and the reality.

The study found that participants who played the virtual reality version of the game first played for an average of 72.6 seconds longer before feeling that five minutes had passed than students who started on a conventional monitor. In other words, students played for 28.5 percent more time than they realized in virtual reality, compared to conventional formats.

This time compression effect was observed only among participants who played the game in virtual reality first. The paper concluded this was because participants based their judgement of time in the second round on whatever initial time estimates they made during the first round, regardless of format. But if the time compression observed in the first round is translatable to other types of virtual reality experiences and longer time intervals, it could be a big step forward in understanding how this effect works.

While there are many informal descriptions of time compression in virtual reality from people who have experienced it first-hand, it’s still an active area of research. One particularly well-known prior study applied virtual reality time compression to shorten the perceived duration of treatment for chemotherapy patients, but that experiment didn’t compare virtual reality with conventional screen formats.

“This is the first time we can really isolate that it’s not just that you’re playing a video game, or the content of whatever you’re seeing,” Mullen said. “It’s really the fact that it is virtual reality versus a conventional screen that contributes to this time compression effect.”

Time compression could be useful in some situations — like enduring an unpleasant medical treatment or passing the time on a long flight — but in other circumstances, it could have harmful consequences.


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