CSSE Seminar Series

The Influence of Audio Effects and Attention on the Perceived Duration of Interaction


Pang Suwanaposee


University of Canterbury

Time & Place

Thu, 01 Jul 2021 12:00:00 NZST in Jack Erskine 121


Users often need to wait for computer systems to perform some task (e.g., loading a page or copying a file), and these delays can have substantial negative effects on user experience. However, there is a lack of understanding about what kinds of audio can change people's perception of time and whether audio's effectiveness is consistent across different interaction contexts such as varying attentional demand. We carried out an empirical study investigating how different types of audio effect influence perceived duration across three interaction contexts -- passive waiting with no visual feedback, passive waiting with visual feedback (watching a progress bar), and active completion of a simple game. We tested three different types of audio effect: a series of beeps that changed in tempo (increasing, decreasing, or constant tempo), a series of beeps that changed in pitch (rising, falling, or constant), and variants of a polyphonic Shepard tone (an auditory illusion that seems to continuously rise or fall in pitch); a silent condition was included as a baseline. In the first stage of the experiment, participants experienced a 10.1 second wait period, indicated with a progress bar, accompanied by one of the audio effects, and they were then asked to assess its duration (a retrospective assessment). In the second stage, participants were told to consider duration as they experienced a series of conditions that compared two 10.1 second wait periods accompanied by different effects, and then select which one (if either) felt longer (a prospective assessment). In settings where users are already considering wait time, our overall results suggest that perceived durations are shorter both with increasing-tempo audio cues and when users have stimuli that occupy their attention. However, this effect may be limited to prospective duration assessments, where users know in advance that they will be assessing the duration of an event.



Pang Suwanaposee graduated from the University of Canterbury with a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Software Engineering and is now studying towards a PhD in Human Computer Interaction.