Time Perception Research in Virtual Reality: Lessons Learned

M. Landeck, F. Unruh, J. Lugrin, and M. Latoschik. Mensch und Computer 2023 , Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V., Veröffentlicht durch die Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. in P. Fröhlich & V. Cobus (Hrsg.), (3.-06. September 2023)To be published.


In this article, we present a selection of recent studies from our research group that investigated the relationship between time perception and virtual reality (VR). We focus on the influence of avatar embodiment, visual fidelity, motion perception, and body representation. We summarize findings on the impact of these factors on time perception, discuss lessons learned, and implications for future applications. In a waiting room experiment, the passage of time in VR with an avatar was perceived significantly faster than without an avatar. The passage of time in the real waiting room was not perceived as significantly different from the waiting room in VR with or without an avatar. In an interactive scenario, the absence of a virtual avatar resulted in a significantly slower perceived passage of time compared to the partial and full-body avatar conditions. High and medium embodiment conditions are assumed to be more plausible and to less different from a real experience. A virtual tunnel that induced the illusion of self-motion (vection) appeared to contribute to the perceived passage of time and experience of time. This effect was shown to increase with tunnel speed and the number of tunnel segments. A framework was proposed for the use of virtual zeitgebers along three dimensions (speed, density, synchronicity) to systematically control the experience of time. The body itself, as well as external objects, seem to be addressed by this theory of virtual zeitgebers. Finally, the standardization of the methodology and future research considerations are discussed.

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