Timing perception is affected by cubist paintings representing human figures

  • Francisco Carlos Nather
  • Paola Alarcon Monteiro Fernandes
  • José Lino Oliveira Bueno


The perception of time can be affected by different pictorial characteristics of artworks. Overestimations, related to higher levels of arousal, were obtained when people observed figurative artworks representing human body movements exposed for approximately 1.5 s. As the levels of arousal are maintained for 2-3 s, this study verified whether abstract paintings representing different types of movement affect time perception. Undergraduate participants observed 20 paintings implying different types of movement that were exposed for 3 s in random sequences. The prospective paradigm to record the time estimations was used. Data analysis showed that cubist paintings representing human figures were differently perceived: the painting with greater arousal and more implied movement was estimated longer than the paintings with less arousal and movement. These results are in agreement with those that used figurative human bodies exposed for short and long term durations which were explained through embodiment mechanisms.

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