Interactive Effects of Musical and Visual Cues on Time Perception: An Application to Waiting Lines in Banks

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Abstract

This study explores the interactive effects of musical and visual cues on time perception in a specific situation, that of waiting in a bank. Videotapes are employed to simulate the situation; a 2 × 3 factorial design (N = 427) is used: 2 (high vs low) amounts of visual information and 2 (fast vs slow) levels of musical tempo in addition to a no-music condition. Two mediating variables are tested in the relation between the independent variables (musical and visual ones) and the dependent variable (perceived waiting time), mood and attention. Results of multivariate analysis of variance and a system of simultaneous equations show that musical cues and visual cues have no symmetrical effects: the musical tempo has a global (moderating) effect on the whole structure of the relations between dependent, independent, and mediating variables but has no direct influence on time perception. The visual cues affect time perception, the significance of which depends on musical tempo. Also, the “Resource Allocation Model of Time Estimation” predicts the attention-time relation better than Ornstein's “storage-size theory.” Mood state serves as a substitute for time information with slow music, but its effects are cancelled with fast music.

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